The functions and norms that drive university student volunteering



Publication Details

Francis, J. E. (2011). The functions and norms that drive university student volunteering. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 16 (1), 1-12.


Young adult volunteers are vital to the current and future operations of nonprofitorganizations yet many countries report low and declining volunteer participation bythis group. Moreover, university students are a particularly under-utilized and underresearchedsegment of potential young adult volunteers. As such, the current studyexamines the functions and norms that drive university students to volunteer. A surveyof 282 students indicates that the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) does not adequatelyexplain the volunteering of today¿s university students. For instance, t-tests revealthat the importance of the VFI functions among current students differs significantly to theimportance of the functions among the previous generation of students. Also, factoranalysis shows that the structure of the VFI model is unstable for the current sample whilemultiple regression reveals that the VFI explains only 11% of university student volunteering.In contrast, x2-tests indicate that volunteering by university students is dependenton the observed volunteering of primary reference group members (i.e., parents, siblings,close friends). The results suggest that nonprofit organizations may need to revise theirrecruitment strategies for today¿s university students: rather than appealing to thefunctional benefits of volunteering, positioning volunteering as the `normal¿ thing todo may be more successful. Further research is needed to develop a richer understandingof reference group influences on the volunteering behavior of today¿s young adults

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