Identifying Individual Motivations of Nonprofit Volunteers in The Human Services Field with a Study of the National Red Cross Organization

Taylor Tyrrell, University of Maine


The purpose of this paper is to identify individual motivations of volunteers in the human services nonprofit field. A literature review was conducted looking into the main functions of motivation, as well as relationships between demographic characteristics and the likelihood of volunteering. Then, a case study was completed on the local Red Cross branch in Bangor, Maine. Interviews were done within the organization in addition to data collection from their online database. The literature review was then used to predict motivations of volunteers within the Red Cross, as well as to devise predictions and suggestions for better recruitment and retention. However, without accurate data from the Red Cross, it was difficult to determine what motivated volunteers. Assumptions could be made that volunteers were motivated by the values of the organization. The Volunteer Connections database of the Red Cross, if used appropriately, would be a great source of information in understanding what motivates volunteers. With the current Red Cross volunteers being mostly elderly, it is safe to say that are motivated by social needs. The Red Cross will however need to adjust their marketing techniques in the future to better suit millennials and college students.