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Decision to Volunteer

Decision to Volunteer

We are proud to introduce the next installment in ASAE & The Center’s powerful “Decision to” series, Decision to Volunteer: Effectively engage individuals by understanding why they give their time! The responses are in, 26,305 of them, and they will give you valuable insight into why individuals volunteer for organizations of all types. This publication is now available for purchase.

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Decision to Volunteer Video Interviews
Decision to Volunteer Co-sponsors
Benchmarking Opportunities
About the Authors
Sneak Peak at the findings
Request a Speaker
The Reviews Are In
Purchase the book

Decision to Volunteer Video Interviews

The first segment, above, features study coauthor Beth Gazely, who highlights some of the interesting findings from the study, which gathered responses from 26,000 people.

Benchmarking Opportunities for Decision to Volunteer

ASAE & The Center offer several options for organizations that wish to learn more about why individuals do—and do not—choose to give their time. The study offers valuable insights into the motivations of individuals employed in several professional industries who choose to volunteer in a variety of ways for numerous organizations. Contact ASAE & The Center Industry & Market Research at or 202-626-2868.

Sneak Peak at the Findings

The 26,305 individuals who responded to the survey have been broken down by three factors to better understand the key populations represented by the pool.
  1. The first breakdown is by volunteer status for any organization. Here, respondents are categorized as either currently volunteering, previously volunteering (not in the last 12 months), or never volunteering for ANY organization.
  2. The second breakdown is by relationship to the co-sponsoring organization that submitted the respondent’s name. This group is first examined by whether or not the co-sponsor identified the individual as a volunteer. Then, they are categorized as currently, previously (not in the last 12 months), or never volunteering for the co-sponsor.
  3. The third breakdown is by level of volunteering for the co-sponsor within the last 12 months. They are broken down into governance volunteers, committee/ongoing volunteers, ad-hoc volunteers, and no volunteering for the co-sponsor.
In addition to these, valuable information can be gleaned from the survey population as a whole. The size of the data pool allows for generalized observations to be made with confidence about individuals and their motivations and preferences in volunteering.

Some numbers:

  1. 92.2% of the respondents to the study reported that they have at some time worked as a volunteer for any organization.
  2. When asked to identify the types of organizations for which they have volunteered in the last 12 months, respondents selected “Civic or community service” most frequently (47.7%) and “Public safety” least frequently (4.2%).
  3. When asked to identify the types of volunteer activities they performed for any organization in the last 12 months, respondents selected “Serving on board(s) or committee(s)” most frequently (57.2%) and “Presenting or testifying on behalf of any organization to any legislative body” least frequently (5.2%).

Request a Speaker

ASAE & The Center offers presentations on all of our research initiatives. Whether it's for your staff, board, members or another group, we'll work with you to develop a presentation especially for you. For more information visit the Speakers Network or email

The Reviews Are In

Ben Martin, CAE: “Why is this an important project? Well, if you remember, one of the key findings of DTJ [Decision to Join] was that engagement predicts likelihood to renew and likelihood to encourage others to join. So, understanding the decision to volunteer in order to increase the number of volunteers makes good business sense. In addition, many associations are concerned about the future of volunteering; there is anecdotal evidence that the younger generations aren't volunteering in the same numbers and that retiring members will create a volunteer vacuum...” Read full review.

Cindy Butts, RCE, CAE: "I just finished reading the newest (soon to be released) ASAE [& The Center] book, "The Decision to Volunteer" (Beth Gazley, Ph.D. and Monica Dignam), a report on why, when and how members decide to volunteer. The reason to buy it is because it's full of info and charts you can personally use within your own association to figure out how to better structure your association's volunteer opportunities, while understanding what is going to attract a wider range of volunteers to say yes to participation. The intent of the study/book is to provide practical suggestions, and it does that." Read full review.

Cecilia Sepp: “For years, we have all had anecdotal evidence about volunteers and why they participate, but now we have a reference that quantifies and qualifies serious research. "Decision to Volunteer" not only provides qualitative analysis, it includes quantitative data presented in easy to read charts and graphs.” Read full review.


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