Can Tailored Communications Motivate Volunteers? A Field Experiment

41 Pages Posted: 6 May 2011

See all articles by Omar Al-Ubaydli

Omar Al-Ubaydli

George Mason University - Department of Economics; Derasat; George Mason University - Mercatus Center

Min Sok Lee

Citadel Group Foundation

Date Written: May 3, 2011

Abstract

Over 25% of the US population volunteers. Clary et al. (1998) devised a survey that identifies a volunteer’s primary motive for volunteering. We investigate the effect of tailoring the communications that volunteers receive from their organizations (e.g., printed newsletters, update emails) to each volunteer’s stated motive for volunteering affects volunteer performance. We find that in general, such tailoring has no effect, but that for volunteers who are motivated primarily by the pursuit of career-­related benefits, such tailoring can have a substantial, positive effect on hours volunteered. We also find that the (in)effectiveness of this tailoring does not depend upon the volunteers’ knowledge of the tailoring.

The tailoring of communications does not involve the explicit manipulation of material incentives. This renders it particularly attractive given the emergence of evidence on how extrinsic incentives can crowd out intrinsic incentives, especially in the domain of charitable contributions.

Keywords: volunteering, charitable contributions, priming, stereotype

JEL Classification: D64, L31

Suggested Citation

Al-Ubaydli, Omar and Lee, Min Sok, Can Tailored Communications Motivate Volunteers? A Field Experiment (May 3, 2011). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 11-19, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1830762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1830762

Omar Al-Ubaydli (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States
703-993-4538 (Phone)
703-993-1133 (Fax)

Derasat ( email )

Bahrain

George Mason University - Mercatus Center ( email )

3434 Washington Blvd., 4th Floor
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

Min Sok Lee

Citadel Group Foundation

131 South Dearborn Street
Chicago, IL 60603
United States

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