Graduation Year

Fall 2010

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Ronald Riggio


Volunteer service accounts for a substantial percentage of America’s workforce and GDP. Numerous organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross have come to rely heavily on volunteer service. Due to the recent economic downturn and resulting budgetary cuts in the government sector, non-profit organizations have had to assume greater responsibility for providing services such as health care and education. Considering the importance of volunteer service to society, this literature review seeks to identify the key functional motives for volunteers. With a particular focus on the functional motivation theory and the six most prominent motives – values, enhancement, understanding, career, social, and protective – this paper explores the general trends, gender difference, and age differences in volunteer motivation. In addition, it discusses the practical implications of knowledge about volunteer motivation on recruiting and retaining volunteers.