Date of Conferral







Barbara Backlund


The Baby Boomer generation in the United States is growing older, and the number of adults age 65 years or older is expected to double by 2050. The increase in older adults combined with the reduction in services to older adults has created a gap in available social services and volunteers are needed to fill those gaps. This quantitative, nonexperimental study was designed to identify the motivations of volunteers who served the socialization needs of isolated older adults in a rural U.S. community. The functional approach theory was utilized to explain how volunteers engage in the same volunteer activity for different reasons. The Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) was used to gather data on the motivations of Little Brothers- Friends of the Elderly (LBFOTE) volunteers as well as demographic data. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, correlation coefficients, ANOVAs, and ANCOVAs to determine the relationships between the 6 functions of the VFI and demographic variables. The majority of volunteers of LBFOTE in this study were White married women with a college degree who were over 56 years of age, retired, and had volunteered for greater than 1 year. This demographic showed that the LBFOTE volunteer base is aging; 70% of volunteers were age 56 and older and 92.6% of volunteers had served for more than one year, indicating that the LBFOTE retains volunteers. Participants identified humanitarian and altruistic reasons as their motivation to volunteer, giving these the highest scores on VFI Values function. The findings promote positive social change by providing information to inform recruiting and retaining volunteers by targeting motives and untapped demographics, contributing to a culture of serving the socialization needs of isolated older adults.

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