Doing Good Online: An Investigation into the Characteristics and Motivations of Digital Volunteers
35 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016
Date Written: November 3, 2015
The rapid growth in Internet technology is making it possible to volunteer in online settings, with participants able to contribute directly to research-based activities supporting non-profit groups and charitable organisations. This study undertakes an investigation into the profile and motivations of contributors to these online volunteering projects. We specifically investigate volunteer activity and retention for the online crowdsourcing platform known as the Zooniverse, which is home to around thirty online volunteering projects. Through a survey undertaken with a representative sample of contributors and reconciling against records of actual voluntary activity, we are able to measure motivations against the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) and explore relationships with observed levels of activity and retention. Our results show that a unique combination of ‘other’ and ‘self’ oriented motivation, specifically Protective & Enhancement, Values and particularly Understanding, associate significantly and positively with observed variations in volunteering activity and retention in an online setting.
Keywords: Online, Volunteering, Motivations, Volunteer Functions Inventory
JEL Classification: A13, D12, L30, L86
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation