Volunteer Motivations and Barriers

Modified on Mon, 07 Aug 2023 at 09:55 AM

Volunteer Motivations

People stated that they mainly volunteered to help others and, to a lesser extent, for social
connection and to use their skills and experience.
While people have many reasons to volunteer, listed below are the main reasons given when surveyed.

  • To help others.
  • For social connection.
  • To use my skills and experience.
  • To support a cause.
  • To develop new skills / gain work experience.
  • To contribute during a crisis.
  • To gain confidence.
  • To be active.
  • For enjoyment.
  • Felt obliged.
  • Not sure – I just do!
  • For religious or cultural reasons.
  • Other reasons.

These reasons include formal and non-formal volunteers and can help you understand why people might want to volunteer or continue to volunteer with your organisation.

Volunteer Barriers

There are many different barriers to volunteering depending on the age and demographic of the potential volunteers. It is important to understand which barriers are most relevant so steps can be taken to address them.

Distance: The location of the organisation can affect how available a volunteering workforce may be. Organisations in metropolitan areas will have more access to local volunteers then rural or remote organisations.

Cost: The cost to some people may prevent volunteering, cost can be mandatory training or requirements, such as a personal vehicle or a First Aid Certificate. Cost can also refer to the cost to an organisation, it may simply not be feasible for an organisation to take on more volunteers or even start a volunteer program.

Age: The age of potential volunteers can determine the activities they are able or willing to do. e.g Senior volunteers may not wish to do landscaping work but are more then happy to handle office tasks.

Health: People that have health issues may be less willing to volunteer while they are dealing with their particular health issue. For people living with a disability, an organisation they might happily volunteer for is inaccessible or difficult to access for them.

Paperwork/Red Tape: Lots of paperwork can be off-putting for volunteers, many volunteers say they just want to get in and help and not be bogged down in forms.

Time: Potential volunteers may simply not have enough time to spare for numerous reasons. e.g. They already volunteer elsewhere.

Perception: Some potential volunteers may have misconceptions about an organisation or about volunteering overall. They may not see the value that volunteers bring.

Recruitment: Recruitment is a large hurdle for all organisations looking to recruit volunteers, it can be challenging to find a volunteer that will be a good fit for an organisation.

Interest: Some people are never going to have an interest in volunteering. Other people may not be aware that they can volunteer in a sector that interests them.


Addressing Volunteer Motivations Through Virtual Volunteering

Quick Guide

This downloadable resource has been developed under the National Volunteer Management Activity project.

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