Event Volunteers # 2 – What motivates volunteers!


Research has been carried out on volunteering in sport from the volunteer perspective and considered three volunteer dispositions: existing volunteers; potential volunteers; and lapsed volunteers.

The study looked at customer segmentation, grouping volunteers by their unique motivators and de-motivators towards sport volunteering.

Nine key motivational areas were identified around recruitment, management and retention responses which helped develop segmentation based on these motivations.

While segmentation based on demographics only – age, ethnic background or income – is problematic. Segments defined in this way lack uniqueness, i.e. age or ethnic background, for example, are not truly discriminating. This makes demographic segmentation of limited value more targeting. If a researcher / strategist is at a loss to know what will motivate a particular individual and so tends to use a ‘one size fits all’ approach. There is no chance to tailor actions to a person’s individual desires or drives.

With motivational segmentation you can target exactly what people are looking for from being a sport volunteer. This type of segmentation becomes more valuable for attracting and retaining volunteers than a demographic study. People with different drivers, attitudes and behaviors differ in how they want to deal with a sport organisation. For example, one of the identified segments, Masters, are highly skilled and confident people seeking a great deal of partnership and control in relation to a sport organisation. Another segment, Cautious but Keen, are not as confident and may require a more benign, parental approach from sport organisations. A segmentation strategy that deals with volunteer motivations, attitudes and behaviors is more valuable for attracting and retaining volunteers than demographic strategy.

When the research was carried out a total thirty-two, in-depth face-to-face interviews were carried out with potential, existing and lapsed volunteers. One-on-one interviews provided clear and detailed descriptions of processes and procedures people have gone through in their commitment or not to sport volunteering. Direct questioning was used, as well as projective questioning in order to do there best to understand volunteers.

Four of the interviews also consisted of site visits. The researcher went  into the place where the participant volunteers and observing the volunteer experience. Interaction with the volunteer continued whilst the participant was volunteering and observed the experience, as the volunteer was in familiar surroundings and allows them to remember aspects of their volunteer role that they may not remember in a different interview setting.

This allowed the researcher to understand what makes sport volunteers tick!

Some of the key findings included:
Nine different mindsets, Nine motivational segments, or mindsets, were identified and recruitment, management and retention responses developed based on these motivations. The segments were differentiated by the key drivers or motivators for and against volunteering as identified below.

• Investors driven by achievement and success.
• Aspirers driven by importance and recognition.
• Masters driven by the need for control over their environment.
• Skill Seekers seeking knowledge and development.
• Cultural Norms seeking group well being.
• Cautious but Keen driven by the need for confidence.
• Time Poor driven by the need for relief from time pressures.
• My Time driven by the need to be free to do other things.


Core drives/values

From all the research and at the heart of volunteering in sport and recreation are four key drivers or values that characterise all volunteering and volunteers.

The core values are: generosity; love of sport; social connection; and appreciation.

So what is it as an event organiser do we need to do to make sure these core values are met when running an event?

So food for thought!

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