Volunteers’ perspective on online volunteering - a qualitative approach
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Since the creation of the Internet as an information technology, it has become a tool which exerts its influence on virtually all aspects of human life, including pro-social behavior (Amichai-Hamburger, 2008). An online context is a place of pro-social promise (Wright and Li 2012), and as Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs) face increasing challenges (such as resource scarcity) the Internet has become an important resource for involving and recruiting volunteers and creating opportunities for participation through online volunteering (Pinho and Macedo, 2006). Online volunteering is understood as a particular form of volunteering whose main distinction lies in procedure, since it occurs partially or totally on the Internet. This study seeks to understand the factors that cause and sustain online volunteerism from the volunteer’s perspective, namely the motivations that lead the individual to volunteer online, as well as the resulting experiences and consequences/benefits. We did twenty-four interviews with volunteers of several nationalities. The results contribute to the understanding and development of new knowledge about the online volunteering process, more precisely for a better understanding of how NPOs can best use this resource, namely in the management, recruiting and retaining of volunteers. The main conclusions show that altruistic motivations and learning/career rewards are the most common motivations. Regarding the intention for permanence, the satisfaction associated with the experience and the initial motivations are shown to be decisive. The consequences/benefits are essentially associated with the acquired learning which volunteers consider to be a valuable future asset, and the intrinsic reward of self-actualization and e-empowerment.
KeywordsInternet Online volunteering Motivations Experiences Consequences
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