Date Approved


Embargo Period


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Public Relations


Public Relations & Advertising


Ric Edelman College of Communication & Creative Arts

First Advisor

Sparks, Suzanne




Public Relations and Advertising


A functional approach provides a framework for identifying psychological and behavioral aspects associated with decision-making, experiences, and consequences. The functional approach to volunteerism suggests that different people, or sub-populations, may actually be motivated to serve based upon individual and varying personal, social, and psychological functions. The purpose of the study was to investigate any motivational differences or similarities between adults living in high at-risk and low at-risk communities with regard to volunteerism.

High and low at-risk communities were identified by the seven community at-risk indicators suggested by the Carnegie Council on Adolescents. Those communities with three or less indicators were labeled "low" while those with four or more were considered "high."

Adults from two high at-risk and two low at-risk communities completed an abbreviated telephone survey of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI). The VFI assesses six major motive areas, or functions, for volunteering. The functions are Social, Value, Understanding, Protective, Esteem, and Career.

The results revealed some similarities and differences between the two community groupings. There was no significant difference between the populations with regard to the Values and Understanding functions. Low at-risk residents scored significantly higher in terms of being motivated by the stipends factor of the Career Function.