About the technical team

Assuming that the RCRC want volunteers to be engaged in their organization for as long as possible, this technical team is focusing on the following:

  • What influences voluntary service at country level?
  • What motivates people to volunteer and remain volunteers? What discourages them to volunteer?
  • How can National Societies increase and sustain volunteer engagement over time?
  • Developing a tool, a common benchmark and a common understanding to monitor and manage volunteer motivation among RC/RC Movement and with other volunteer organisations -> iMotivate tool

The Motivation of volunteers technical team will be using existing motivation theories to capture and analyse volunteer motivation levels and link them to management practices, by developing an iMotivate tool.

The technical team will test the iMotivate tool and do an analysis of the results until May 2019 with the members of the technical team, with at least 200 volunteers from each National Society.

The tool will monitor the following elements of motivation:

  • Volunteers’ satisfaction of basic needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness
  • Overall satisfaction with their activity
  • Organizational commitment and identification
  • Intent to remain with the organization or the project
  • Quality of supervision using Self Determination Theory concepts of autonomy support
  • Social support among volunteers and between volunteers and professionals
  • Respect and appreciation

Technical team members :

Lead : Carine Fleury Bique, Head of Volunteering and Youth, Swiss Red Cross     (Carine.Fleury@redcross.ch)

Gabrel Pictet, IFRC

Participating National Societies

Austrian RC

Ethiopian RC

Mongolia RC

Luxembourg RC

Ecuador RC

Swiss RC

Scientific support:

Stefan Guntert https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Stefan_Guentert

Scientific Background

The survey measures several aspects of a successful volunteer experience. All questions – except for the demographic ones – belong to one of the following three conceptual blocks:

  • Outcome variables: the indicators of a successful and satisfying volunteer experience
  • Satisfaction of basic needs for autonomy, belongingness, and competence
  • Leadership and management practices

In this survey, we ask more questions than there will be in the final volunteer motivation monitoring tool. Our goal is to determine the most relevant and useful questions to assess the volunteer experience.

Outcome variables

We focus on the following six aspects of successful volunteering:

  1. Overall satisfaction with the volunteer activity
  2. Identification with (emotional commitment to) the National Society
  3. Intent to continue volunteering for the National Society
  4. Willingness to share one’s ideas for improvement
  5. Value congruence (the match between volunteers’ values and the values of the National Society)
  6. Psychological health (e.g. vigor or burnout)

High levels on these outcome variables are the target to reach with effective leadership and management practices.

Basic psychological needs

To shed light on the volunteer experience, we make use of the self-determination theory (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Gagné & Deci, 2005). This approach to human motivation explains why some aspects of the volunteer activity and the organization either boost or undermine volunteers’ motivation.

Self-determination theory assumes that there are three basic psychological needs for humans. These needs have to be satisfied so that people can thrive in whatever activity they are involved in, such as work, education, health-related behavior, or volunteering:

  • The need for autonomy refers to the desire to feel a sense of psychological freedom and choice in an activity. People want to have a say in what they do and be allow to voice their opinion.
  • The need for belongingness refers to the desire to develop meaningful and warm relationships with other individuals and to feel as part of a group.
  • The need for competence addresses the desire to be able to handle an optimally challenging task successfully, and to attain valuable outcomes.

We address this “ABC” of needs and use them as early indicators of how fulfilling the volunteer experience is. Several studies demonstrated that satisfaction versus frustration of these three basic needs explains the effect of leadership and management on work outcomes in the contexts of both paid and voluntary work (e.g., Kovjanic et al., 2012; Oostlander et al., 2014).

Leadership and management practices

The basic psychological needs represent the “roads” to a successful and fulfilling volunteer experience. Many features of one’s volunteer activity may either satisfy or thwart the desire for autonomy, belongingness, and competence.

In the pilot project, we focus on the impact of three specific aspects of leadership and management practices:

  • How much do the supervisors support and encourage volunteers’ autonomy?
  • How strongly do volunteers support each other?
  • How much do the volunteers feel appreciated for their efforts?

With respect to the third question, we look into different facets of appreciation, that is, not only rewards, but also feedback about the impact of volunteering. Furthermore, we also address appreciation from family, friends, and the community/neighborhood.


Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The ‘‘what’’ and ‘‘why’’ of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.

Gagné, M., & Deci, E. L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 26, 331-362.

Kovjanic, S., Schuh, S., Jonas, K., Quaquebeke, N., & Dick, R. (2012). How do transformational leaders foster positive employee outcomes? A self-determination-based analysis of employees’ needs as mediating links. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 33, 1031-1052.

Oostlander, J., Güntert, S. T., & Wehner, T. (2014). Linking autonomy-supportive leadership to volunteer satisfaction: A self-determination theory perspective. Voluntas, 25, 1368-1387.

Further reading:

The quality of volunteers’ motives: Integrating the functional approach and self-determination theory. Stefan Tomas Güntert, Isabel Theresia Strubel, Elisabeth Kals & Theo Wehner (2016)


  1.  I want to join how should I proceed? Click here for more information.
  2. Why is this work interesting for my National Society? Do you want to know what motivate the volunteers of your National Society to stay committed to your organization? What discourages them to volunteer? Based on qualitative research and preliminary quantitative results, we will develop an instrument for measuring the social and motivational quality of volunteer projects.

It’s free for National Societies willing to join!

  1. How can I find the content of the survey? Click here
  2. Can I translate the survey in my own language? Of course, the survey has to be understood by  volunteers, so we kindly ask you to translate it into your language. Please note that it is already available in English, French and Spanish.
  3. How many volunteers should respond to the survey? 20 respondents per branch, 50 per National Society. But of course the more volunteers answer the questions, the more the results will be meaningful.
  4. What will happen with the data? The responses will be treated confidentially.  We will not ask the names of the volunteers. No identifying information will be stored with your data. Only the investigators of the study will have access to that data. Only summarized data will be presented at meetings or in any publications.
  5. How much time does it take? We will ask you to translate the survey into your own language (if necessary) and then send it to your branches. We will send you the results with some recommendation as soon as all the volunteers have answered the survey. We will then organize a conference call with you to discuss the results with your National Society.
  6. What does this technical team plan to do after this survey? The survey is the first step. We plan to elaborate a monitoring tool of the motivation of volunteers. Therefore we want to test the questions first. The iMotivate tool should be made of 15 questions maximum. We want to use the data to develop guidelines on how to use de volunteering motivation tool, we could also develop training opportunities for volunteer coordinators on management of volunteers.

Please contact Carine Fleury Bique, Technical Team Lead if you need more information