Doing Good Online: An Investigation into the Characteristics and Motivations of Digital Volunteers

35 Pages Posted: 10 Feb 2016

See all articles by Joe Cox

Joe Cox

University of Portsmouth

Eun Young Oh

University of Portsmouth

Brooke Simmons

University of Oxford

Gary Graham

University of Leeds - Leeds University Business School (LUBS)

Anita Greenhill

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School

Chris Lintott

University of Oxford

Karen Masters

University of Portsmouth

James Woodcock

Independent

Date Written: November 3, 2015

Abstract

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

Cox, Joe and Oh, Eun Young and Simmons, Brooke and Graham, Gary and Greenhill, Anita and Lintott, Chris and Masters, Karen and Woodcock, James, Doing Good Online: An Investigation into the Characteristics and Motivations of Digital Volunteers (November 3, 2015). Leeds University Business School Working Paper No. 16-08. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2717402 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2717402

Joe Cox (Contact Author)

University of Portsmouth ( email )

University House
Winston Churchhill Avenue
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2UP
United Kingdom
+44 2392 844723 (Phone)
+44 2392 844037 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://tinyurl.com/drjcox

Eun Young Oh

University of Portsmouth ( email )

University House
Winston Churchhill Avenue
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2UP
United Kingdom

Brooke Simmons

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Gary Graham

University of Leeds - Leeds University Business School (LUBS) ( email )

Leeds LS2 9JT
United Kingdom

Anita Greenhill

University of Manchester - Manchester Business School ( email )

P.O. Box 88
Manchester, M15 6PB
United Kingdom

Chris Lintott

University of Oxford ( email )

Mansfield Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX1 4AU
United Kingdom

Karen Masters

University of Portsmouth ( email )

University House
Winston Churchhill Avenue
Portsmouth, Hampshire PO1 2UP
United Kingdom

James Woodcock

Independent

No Address Available

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