As an institution that relies heavily on volunteers, specifically our group of 100+ volunteer tour guides, periodically we need to think about the question: Why do people volunteer? In order to retain committed volunteers, we must think about their motivations in order to make the experience as rewarding as possible.
There has been much written about why people spend time and energy volunteering. It often comes down to the following reasons: personal gain, personal associations, or belief in an organization. With the tour program at Walker we strive to hit all three. Personal gain takes the form of ongoing education and exposure to the arts, as well as museum discounts, etc., personal associations include the friendships that guides develop and the social events we plan, and most importantly, belief in the organization comes from within the volunteers themselves and their steadfast committment to education and the arts.
That being said, when I receive letters like these after taking kids on a tour, I realize that those “academic” reasons for why people volunteer kind of fly out the window.