Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Business


Faculty of Business and Public Management

First Advisor

Marie Ryan


The contributions of volunteers assist many organisations to stretch scarce resources further in a bid to provide important services to the community. Such organisations are challenged to motivate the participation of new and continuing volunteers. Although most people in the community recognise the value and importance of volunteerism, few actually commit to participating as volunteers. This study seeks to expand the somewhat limited research on volunteers in an Australian context. The sample consisted of 361 volunteers from three service organisations in Australia-- Rotary International, Horne and Community Care (HACC), and Surf Life Saving Australia. Each of these groups fulfils an important role in the community, yet struggles to recruit and retain the services of volunteers. Determining the motivations that members and potential members seek to have satisfied through their volunteer participation allows persuasive communication to be developed that will more effectively attract people to these organisations. It can also assist the placement of volunteers in the most satisfying roles, resulting in longer retention of volunteers. This study employed the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI), an instrument that measures the motivational profile of individual volunteers. The reasonable sample size facilitated the use of multivariate techniques such as factor, discriminant, and cluster analysis, Motivational and demographic profiles of the sample and each sub-group were determined and differences between the three sub-groups examined. The results determined that, for this sample, there were five key motivations to volunteer, contrasting with the six-factor result consistently found by the developers of the VFI. Further research is required to determine whether this is a reflection of Australian volunteers or rather of this particular sample. For the total sample and for each sub-group, the primary motivators of their volunteer participation were the Values and Understanding functions, and the Career function was the least important motivation. The Career motive was, however, significantly more important for Surf Life Saving volunteers than for the Rotary and HACC volunteers and served to differentiate between the groups. The results suggested that Surf Life Saving volunteers tended to be more egoistically-oriented in their motivations for volunteering than were the Rotary and HACC volunteers. Implications for the recruitment, placement and retention of volunteers in these organisations are subsequently discussed.