Volunteers and Visitor Centres: Volunteering or Vocation?



This study explores the motivations and satisfactions of volunteers working within two visitor centres, one at a rural tourism destination with the other in a regional setting. A comparative analysis between the two differing centres is conducted employing quantitative survey and qualitative interview methods.  The Volunteers Functions Inventory (VFI) was selected as a survey instrument to explore volunteers’ motivations whilst a semi-structured informal interview was employed to gauge whether the managers of those volunteers understood their motivations. Throughout the study the authors also explore the links between Serious Leisure Theory and Functionalist Theory. The study finds that visitor centre volunteers are likely to be volunteering with the purpose of serving their community, developing professional and/or private connections, and education and practicing skills; with rural volunteers being more motivated by their community values than their regional counterparts. The findings reinforce the value of the VFI as a recruitment and retention tool for human resource managers and also identifies parallels between the two theories examined.


Keywords: Voluntarism, volunteerism, volunteering, Volunteer Functions Inventory.

Key Theories: Leisure Theory, Functionalist Theory.

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