Monday, August 07, 2006

Volunteers motivated by altruism not job prospects

Volunteers are motivated by their ability to make a difference, not by the potential for career development, according to the Economic and Social Research Council.

Although volunteers may describe their occupation as work, a study from the ESRC has concluded the government understanding of volunteering as a way to reconnect people with the labour market was “too narrow”.

The study, carried out by academics from Newcastle University and Nottingham Trent University, found ‘getting on’ in a career was the least common motivation for engaging in volunteering.

Most volunteers in fact took up their work because they wanted to help those within their own community, offer help to those in a less fortunate position, or because they felt it was a way to help themselves, such as dealing with bereavement or coping with the shift into retirement. The study found that volunteering plays a valuable role in developing social capital within communities; it enhances levels of active citizenship and builds community spirit and a sense of belonging. It also improves self-confidence and provides a structure for people’s lives.


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