For years, during my workshops on volunteer engagement, I have half-jokingly said I have never volunteered out of the goodness of my heart or to be nice – because I’m not at all a nice person – and have, instead, volunteered because I’m angry about something. I have used this as a way to introduce audiences to the plethora of motivations of volunteers, to help them create better recruitment and engagement schemes.
Now, I have some science to back me up!
Someone sent me this link today: “Anger motivates volunteers as much as sympathy.” The authors of the study are Dr. Robert Bringle and his students Ashley Hedgepath and Elizabeth Wall at Appalachian State University.
And it’s not the first study that’s said this: Ilana Silber published “The angry gift: A neglected facet of philanthropy” in 2012.
It’s a mistake to think that all volunteers are motivated only by kindness or selflessness. There are all sorts of motivations for volunteering. People volunteer because they:
- like the idea of being associated with the particular organization or activity
- want experience to put on job applications
- want to meet people, as friends or for their social or business connections
- think the activity looks fun
- like the people that have invited them to volunteer, or like the people volunteering
- are curious
- are bored
and, yes, because they are angry about something – about how many discarded pets are at shelters or women’s lack of access to reproductive health information or domestic violence or barriers to girls in STEM-related careers or the condition of the environment and on and on.
And all of these are GREAT reasons for volunteering. Do you welcome all of these volunteers at your organization?
Making certain volunteers feel unwelcomed because of your language
Do you welcome people with your language?
Screening Volunteers for Attitude
Mission statements for your volunteer engagement
Welcoming immigrants as volunteers at your organization