Why volunteer for the environment?: an exploration of environmental volunteer motivation, satisfaction and retention.




Hunter, Angela Tamara

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



The future of environmental conservation ultimately depends on the collective impact of actions taken by individuals. While many people choose to engage in environmentally responsible behaviours, such as recycling or using public transit, some people are going a step further by volunteering with environmental organizations. These environmental volunteers undertake a variety of roles that are essential to the overall functioning and program delivery of most nonprofit environmental organizations. A major challenge of using volunteers can be the rate of volunteer turnover which increases the need to recruit and train new volunteers. Drawing on past volunteer motivation and satisfaction research, this study seeks to better understand what motivates environmental volunteers and to identify what factors contribute to volunteer satisfaction and retention. A questionnaire with Likert scale and open ended questions was completed by 148 environmental volunteers in the Victoria Capital Regional District. Factor analysis of the survey responses identified nine potential motives for volunteering with environmental organizations: Career, Environmental Values, Personal Growth, Protective, Social Norms, Social Interests, Efficacy, and Independence. The identified motivational factors were used to develop a cluster analysis, which identified six potential groupings or types of individuals attracted to volunteering with environment and conservation organizations. The six groupings identified were Practical Environmentalists, Concerned Environmentalist, Career Environmentalist, Budding Idealist, Social Environmentalist, and Other Helpers. Questions regarding volunteer satisfaction identified six factors that affect volunteer satisfaction: Organization Satisfaction, Individual Freedom, Personal Contribution, Environmental Impact, Intrinsic Rewards, and Personal Benefits. Satisfaction with these factors, however, was not enough to predict volunteer retention. Barriers to volunteering, such as health, location of volunteer activities, and other commitments also contribute to discontinuation of volunteer service. The results of this study can be useful for volunteer management and organization of volunteer programs in order to recruit and maintain satisfied volunteers.



Voluntarism, Volunteers, Victoria, B.C.