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Can Tailored Communications Motivate Volunteers? A Field Experiment

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  • Omar Al-Ubaydli

    () (Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science and Department of Economics, George Mason University)

  • Min Sok Lee

    (Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation)

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Omar Al-Ubaydli & Min Sok Lee, 2011. "Can Tailored Communications Motivate Volunteers? A Field Experiment," Working Papers 1023, George Mason University, Interdisciplinary Center for Economic Science.
  • Handle: RePEc:gms:wpaper:1023
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Linardi, Sera & McConnell, Margaret A., 2011. "No excuses for good behavior: Volunteering and the social environment," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 95(5-6), pages 445-454, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Julian Conrads & Bernd Irlenbusch & Tommaso Reggiani & Rainer Michael Rilke & Dirk Sliwka, 2016. "How to hire helpers? Evidence from a field experiment," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(3), pages 577-594, September.
    2. Yeomans, Michael & Al-Ubaydli, Omar, 2018. "How does fundraising affect volunteering? Evidence from a natural field experiment," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 57-72.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    volunteering; charitable contributions; priming; stereotype;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • D64 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics - - - Altruism; Philanthropy; Intergenerational Transfers
    • L31 - Industrial Organization - - Nonprofit Organizations and Public Enterprise - - - Nonprofit Institutions; NGOs; Social Entrepreneurship

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