Volunteer Motivations and Nonprofit Organizations

  • Robert A. StebbinsEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-31816-5_2581-1



The scientific literature on the motives to volunteer is awash with general statements on this proclivity, which is, however, highly personal and individual. Perhaps the best known of these is the altruism/self-interest motive: people volunteer for both altruistic and self-beneficial reasons. This proposition is a well-known part of what Musick and Wilson (2008) call the “functional theory of motives” for volunteering. This theory, they note, “is based on the assumption that all persons have the same basic psychological needs” (p. 34). The goal of research done in the name of the functional theory is to determine these needs as they lead people to volunteer. Motives as needs are thus viewed as antecedents to volunteer action.

After reviewing some of the main points of the functional theory, Musick and Wilson present the sociological position on the motive to...


Volunteer Activity Social Entrepreneurship Unpaid Work Volunteer Motivation Durable Benefit 
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© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada