Organizations use many different approaches to attract and retain volunteers. For instance, one attempt at a macro level is required high school service, which aims in part to inspire large numbers of students to continue with volunteering into their adult lives by having them engage in volunteering during high school.
This Research to Practice looks at another approach: conducting a reflective activity after volunteering to promote an intrinsic desire to volunteer. It is based on a novel field experiment study conducted in a controlled setting in order to provide clear evidence for the causal impact of reflective activity. The study found that those who had an incentive to complete a task (writing about the benefits of volunteering) that complemented their volunteer activity became more interested in volunteering going forward than those who volunteered but did not participate in the reflective activity. The study provides food for thought regarding the use of this mechanism, not only for retaining volunteers but also for providing important data to document the impact of the organization.