Motivation of Public Garden Volunteers

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University of Delaware
Volunteers and volunteering are an important aspect of public gardens, with over 40,000 volunteers contributing 2 million hours annually (AABGA, 1997). Understanding these volunteers’ motivations, as reported by Clary and Snyder (1 999), is important in keeping the volunteers satisfied and continuing to volunteer. This research sought to identify the motivations of volunteers at public gardens across the United States. The researcher gathered information first on the current state of volunteer programs at public gardens by means of a postcard survey. Next, the researcher selected 50 gardens to participate in the study, with surveys distributed to a sample of each garden’s volunteers. Volunteers returned 1538 (52%) of the 2937 surveys distributed. The survey included the Volunteer Functions Inventory, items specific to garden volunteering, and demographic questions. The results, through principal factor analysis, indicated the presence of eight motivational factors. These were consistent with previous research, except for a split in the Values function and the addition of the Garden Setting function. Garden volunteers ranked the Values, Understanding, and Garden Setting functions as the three most important motivations. Results did vary across demographic variables, but, in general, demographics were a poor predictor of volunteers’ motivations. Volunteers’ open comments suggested the presence of more motivational functions in addition to those of the Volunteer Survey.
Human resources, Volunteer management, Motivations, Demographics