- Purpose: To examine: (1) if individuals who prefer different volunteering organisations have different self-concepts; (2) if individuals perceive their preferred volunteering organisation as more similar to their self-concept than other volunteering organisations; and (3) if self-congruity theory correctly predicts consumer (volunteer) behaviour differences across organisations and organisational missions.
- Design/methodology/approach: We collected data on people’s preferred volunteering organisation, their self-concept and their perceived image from eight volunteering organisations using an online self-completion survey. We then used chi-square tests and paired-sample t-tests to identify significant differences between groups.
- Findings: Individuals who prefer different volunteering organisations differ significantly in their self-concept. For the three volunteering organisations with high levels of awareness and distinct images, self-congruity theory held; that is, people who volunteer for them perceive those organisations as more similar to their self-concept than other volunteering organisations. For the four organisations with lower awareness and less-distinct images, we found a tendency towards self-congruity, but results were not significant. In one case, self-congruity theory did not hold, possibly due to the more “obligatory” nature of the volunteering task.
- Research limitations/implications: This research extends the application of self-congruity theory to the volunteering context. It identifies three key dimensions that affect the extent to which self-congruity holds for volunteering organisations: brand awareness, image distinctiveness and whether the involvement is actually “voluntary”.
- Practical implications: Self-congruity theory has the potential to be a valuable tool in helping volunteering organisations increase their productivity through better targeted marketing strategies.
- Originality/value: This study is the first to apply self-congruity theory to the volunteering sector at the organisation brand level, and gives practitioners an additional tool to improve the effectiveness of their marketing.