What motivates volunteers? Is it purely altruistic or does volunteering also meet some sort of non-altruistic goal which the volunteer has? There are many theories about motivations and why people are driven to do the things they do in life, but one of my favorites is called the Need Theory. The Need Theory, also known as the “Three Needs Theory” was published by David McClelland, an American Psychologist who studied at Yale. McClelland built upon the framework of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to explain what drives people to do the things they do in life.
The Need Theory is broken down into three different overarching needs which broadly cover what motivates people in work, or in our case to give their time to the community. The three needs are: Power, Achievement, and Affiliation. Those who are more introspective may recognize which category they fall into before I even spell out the specifics of each. Keep in mind that motivation is fluid and priorities can change.
The need for power is tied to the individual’s desire to win. These people are generally competitive in nature, enjoy being the boss, and enjoy recognition and rewards. Baby Boomers are the most likely of the current generations to be driven by the need for power. People who are driven by power are also the most likely to be bosses. While power is usually a loaded word, not everyone driven by power is malevolent, some just enjoy the rush of competition and feeling that they were an integral part of accomplishing something great.
The need for achievement is fairly straightforward in its structure. People who are driven by achievement enjoy accomplishing goals and receiving continuous feedback about their work. They prefer working on mid-range tasks, goals which are not too long term, but not too short term. Volunteers who are driven by achievement tend to work alone or with smaller groups on projects even in positions which they deal with the public.
The need for affiliation are volunteers and workers who are extremely social. Those driven by affiliation want to belong no matter where they go, and are the mostly likely to juggle tons of activities at the same time. If you’ve ever met the type of person who spends more nights volunteering for various different causes than they do actually sitting at home then you most likely have someone who needs affiliation. These are the people you want as a front line for the organization, as they strongly desire being liked, and making other people happy.
So what motivates you? Do you feel the need for achieving something great, to be a part of something bigger, or do you allow your competitive nature to drive you to do better in the community? No matter what the reason Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation is always looking to help fulfill those volunteer needs!