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Motivation and Satisfaction of Volunteers at a Florida Natural Resource Agency

Susan K. Jacobson, J. Stuart Carlton, Martha C. Monroe

Abstract


Volunteer participation with park and recreation agencies has been growing in association with reduced agency budgets, broadened goals, an increasingly active population of senior citizens, and recognition of the benefits of stakeholder involvement. Yet research on the motivations of volunteers and influences on their satisfaction is lacking. Findings from this study of volunteers who make a range of contributions to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) should be useful for improving volunteer programs at park and nature-based recreation agencies. An understanding of volunteer motivations is important for improving or expanding volunteerism and ensuring the effective use of staff time and resources.

We conducted a Web-based survey of 569 volunteers at FWC, with a cooperation rate of 59%. Slightly more than half of the respondents were male, and 95% were Caucasian. A motivation scale based on previous research measured the relative importance of seven motivations for volunteering: helping the environment, enhancing personal use of the environment, furthering career goals, engaging in social interactions, having opportunities for learning, being involved in effective projects, and expressing values and esteem. The strongest motivation of FWC volunteers was helping the environment, while furthering career goals was the weakest. Although volunteer activities such as office help or fence maintenance may be needed, it is important that supervisors link these activities to “helping the environment” by explaining the relevance of the activities to resource management goals. Motivations for volunteering vary with age and gender. Motivations to obtain career experience were more prevalent among newer volunteers who had been volunteering with FWC for less than a year and among younger volunteers. Females had higher mean scores in several categories, including helping the environment, career, learning, and values and esteem. Longer term volunteering was associated with reports of increased training and higher scores on a satisfaction index. A multiple regression analysis found that strength and type of motivation and two factors often associated with successful programs—training and recognition activities—predicted satisfaction of volunteers. Because motivations vary among volunteers, it is important for agencies to offer a variety of volunteer opportunities and advertise them so that potential recruits can select options that best meet their needs. In agencies where several motives, such as helping the environment and being socially engaged, are universally strong, supervisors may be able to adjust their volunteer program to help all volunteers better fulfill these important needs through their service. Such activities, along with appropriate training and recognition of the importance of volunteer work, will likely help agencies improve their volunteer programs and retain satisfied volunteers.


Keywords


Agency; volunteer motivations; volunteer recruitment; satisfaction

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