Motivation job satisfaction and volunteerism in nigeria


In this chapter, there will be a lot of discussion on various findings on motivation and job satisfaction which will give a brief understanding of the research topic, the meaning of volunteerism, the concept of volunteer firefighters, volunteerism in the Nigerian fire service, the various theories of motivation, benefits provided to the volunteer firefighters and also the critical issues affecting volunteering in Nigeria.

All these shall be review through the use of textbooks, Magazines, Journal, Internet and other related periodical publication


Volunteerism plays a critical role in the functioning of marketing systems, and therefore investigating volunteer activities on an individual level has important micromarketing implications (Laverie and McDonald 2007).

During the year ended September 2006, 61.2 million Americans volunteered for an organization at least once, representing 26.7 percent of the population (U.S. Department of Labor 2006). In Australia, 5.2 million people (or 34 percent of the Australian population) participated in voluntary work in 2006 by contributing 713 million hours to the community (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2007). Unfortunately, statistics for these activities are not registered locally in Nigeria, but postulated figures from the Ministry of Works, state that there are only over 1.6 million volunteers annually in different working sectors, with over 64,000 expected to participate in the up-coming 2011 elections.

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These volunteers now recognize they have the freedom, capabilities, and confidence to address chronic social problems in their societies, such as inadequate health systems, entrenched poverty, environmental threats, and high-crime rates among other social ills (Bornstein 2004). For example, volunteer numbers at the Olympic Games have gone from almost zero in the 1980s to 40,917 accredited volunteers used in conducting the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Green and Chalip 2004). In retrospect, researchers have concluded that without these volunteers, the Sydney Olympic Games could not have been produced. An additional dimension for societies that host special events such as the Olympics is that such events are now used in the economic and social development strategies of cities, regions, and countries to win positioning as a favourable destination for business, investment, and tourism.

Volunteers now exist in private and public industries, Government and NGO institutions likewise, primarily consisting of youths, unemployed, the ageing population and supporters of a cause. Since 1982, the volunteers for Peace (VFP) association have registered over 28,000 volunteers for its international program, annually.

The importance of volunteering in Nigeria is highlighted by the following comment by Lola Akinmade of the Global Vision International (GVI) "With a population pushing 145 million in a country twice the size of California, the need for volunteers is extremely crucial. A rampant shortage of adequate healthcare facilities and professionals has caused local hospitals and clinics and other important societal facilities to be stretched beyond capacity. A search on Volunteer Abroad yields only 10 listings for Nigeria, and over 200 listings for Kenya, even though Nigeria is Africa's most populous nation".

It is well understood that volunteering can also have a positive impact on the volunteer themselves, as well as on society as a whole. Volunteers live longer, have better mental health, have higher occupational prestige, and have greater employment opportunities than those who do not volunteer (Wilson and Musick 1999). Brooks (2008, 183) notes that charity brings happiness for psychological reasons because it gives individuals a sense of control, while volunteering time can provide an important way to mentally ''reboot'' and redirect energy away from personal problems. These benefits translate into reduced health care costs, greater productivity, and higher quality of life, directly benefiting society as a whole.

Overall, the importance of volunteering in Nigeria cannot be understated. A look at the figures highlighted above, give an insight into the developments that are necessary to be undertaken in order to improve this working system that can only help improve the state of the Nigerian society. Granted, it is not necessarily a lucrative source of living for a country populated by ambitious entrepreneurs, however, there are the few that if reached out to, like in any other country will be more than willing to involve themselves in such activities to improve both themselves and their society.


The role of fire fighter entails a commitment to doing a job: fighting fires and taking care of communities. Jules Naudet (2002), a filmmaker who filmed the fire command activity in the World Trade Centre, said, "They're fire fighters, they'll put the fire out, that is what they do." Fire fighters did their job on September 11 because it was their job. They identified with the job and with the role the job of fire fighter imposed on them; they were committed to that identity, and it predicted their behaviour. Commitment is an important multidimensional construct that links individuals in varying ways to a superior, to a work group, to an organization, and finally, to a served community.

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In the CBS documentary 9/11, a probationary fire fighter comments on his very small payroll check, saying that if he wanted money, he would have been a lawyer, but "I wanted something that I could live with for the rest of my life. I can live with this." In the same documentary, a fire chief says that when he gets up in the morning he wants to feel good and "to look in the mirror and know that I am doing something with my life."

According to Mr. Danny Shinto of Nigeria Firefighters Oshogbo Branch, as quoted from a speech he delivered when asked what motivates people to be a volunteer firefighter; Money or salary is not involved as a result, people are motivated to join the fire service based on non monetary rewards. Dennis Smith (2002) reports a story about a retired fire marshal who bemoaned the death of a fellow fire fighter who was repelling when a rope broke. Another fire fighter responded by saying, "Remember this is part of the job".

Fire fighters commit to an identity that requires heroic behaviour. Identity theory dictates that they act selflessly because that is what is expected. Fire fighters do their job in order to maintain internal congruence and because others expect them to act as their job requires.1 In these cases, we see commitment directed toward the role-most notably, a job that entails responsibility to safeguard the welfare of others. Fire fighters are not the only professionals in this category. We include other public-sector careers, such as police officers, teachers, and military personnel, and private-sector occupations, such as flight attendants and doctors. These jobs require the person to uphold a higher standard, and they are expected to do what is required to maintain the safety of their charges. They do well because it is their job to serve the community.

An unpublished State University of New York at Buffalo Ph.D. Dissertation (Sargent, 1992) on satisfaction and retention of volunteer firefighters found that altruism ranked first as the most satisfying reason for volunteering.

The eight top reasons for active firefighters to stay on the job were altruism, skills, thrills, work environment, management, social relations, material issues, and recognition. Retention policies identified as important by the active volunteers were management quality and skill development, quality of the work environment, and altruism.


In researching what motivates people to become volunteer firefighters, one must first understand what motivates people to become firefighters in the first place. The author's findings reveal that the youths in the society are encouraged to join the voluntary service because of their friends and as a sign to show their level of involvement in the development of the society. They see the voluntary fire service as a social contribution and as a social service to the community. They are encouraged because of peer group influence and the need to be seen as being relevant to the needs of the society. Once they see their colleagues wearing the uniform of the voluntary fire service and any of the firefighters receives acknowledgement from other members of the society after display of his prowess in quenching a fire disaster in the neighborhood, few weeks or months later you see other members of the youths in the society coming to join the voluntary fire organization.

Voluntary fire fighting in Nigeria is viewed as a service to the community and the nation. Many people take up the voluntary service for enhanced self esteem in the community. When they engage in this service the people of the community see their contribution to the welfare of the society. This recognition by the members of the society is a sort of motivation that encourages other to enlist for the voluntary fire service in Nigeria.

The work of the voluntary fire service in Nigeria is another source of motivation for people to join the voluntary fire organizations. The work of the voluntary fire fighters is arranged in a way that it is seen as less burdensome or monotonous. The work is designed in such a way that you encounter challenges and you are able to resolve the present challenge you are faced with, which encourage you to use your initiative and personal decision as you continue to do the work. These challenges that are involved encourage self-motivation, initiative and innovation in the employees. And even when they are faced with difficulties there is a supervisor always at hand to train, encourage and coach them.

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The following insight was also given during a personal interview of division chief scholar of the Chico fire Department in Nigeria, when questioned what motivates people to become part-time, on-call firefighters: We find that a lot of our firefighters do it not for the money, but for the camaraderie and the feeling of giving back to their community in the form of civic duty and civic pride, "I just want to give something back to the community." And some participate in firefighting for the challenges associated with firefighting and the variation from their regular job. On the east coast, they have much more peer pressure and you are almost expected to be part of the volunteer fire department as socialite expectation. Also in a rural area there is a much greater sense of community. On the west coast it is a critical component on the entry-level firefighters resume. It is a way of getting pre-employment job experience, and used much more as a career stepping-stone. On the west coast, in most cases they get preferential treatment on career opening".

Eases [2003] further substantiated this in his research on motivation of volunteer firefighters in combination fire departments. "as firefighters search to fulfill their needs for self-esteem and self-satisfaction in mallow's Hierarchy of needs, this in turn allows the individual to reach his/her highest level in mallow's Hierarchy of needs, that being self-actualization" .

However, detrimental to these volunteering, Olu Imago of the Ajaokuta fire division comments that a change has also occurred in society, affecting the activities of volunteers. In his words, "as our social interaction is more dependent on technology and the internet, less emphasis has been placed on the social aspects of volunteering". This has hurt recruitment and retention for those organizations dependent on volunteers across the nation. People join volunteer fire departments and stay involved not to serve their community and help others in need, but also to develop social relationships.

Again, volunteering in Nigeria is probably not as capacitated as it should, but we have so far realized that activities are undergoing to ensure that volunteers are properly motivated and catered for. There are and will always be the obvious hindrances to such activities, but understanding the motivation theorems involved and applying them to make benefits for the volunteers will obviously ensure continued progress in the right direction for Nigerian volunteering, particularly in the fire fighting departments.


Normally, the voluntary fire fighters are insured against any danger in an attempt to carry out their duties and responsibilities. Once there is any danger, the employees are sure that the state will pay compensation to them and in the event of death, compensation is paid to the members of their family. The insurance scheme encourages effective participation of the voluntary fire fighters.

According to USA National volunteer fire council (1998) among the 50 states, volunteer firefighters received a variety of benefits which were grouped into five categories: 1) Workers' compensation, 2) Death benefits, 3) Retirement pension, 4) Property or income tax rebates, and 5) Health care benefits. 44 states, including Pennsylvania, provide workers' compensation benefits for volunteer firefighters injured or killed while on duty. Twenty-seven states provide death benefits, and 20 states provide retirement pensions. Seven states provide income tax or property tax rebates and only one state, Louisiana, provides volunteers with health care benefits.

The Head of the Osun-State Firefighters confirms that as is seen in the united state of America, these same facilities exist in various parts of the country (Nigeria), although as is in the united state of America, they are dependent on the governments in individual states of the federation. As he comments, "these rewards provide recognition to people of volunteer firefighters for their achievements and contribution. Saying if rewards are worth having and attainable and people know how they can attain them, they can act as motivators".

Officials said they believe nonfinancial incentives are more effective at motivating and retaining volunteer firefighters than financial benefits. A common opinion was that financial benefits do not motivate volunteers; however, constant fire service related expenses made it difficult for volunteers, especially those with lower incomes, to continue their volunteer service.

In response to an incident that occurred in the area involving 13 members of the volunteer firefighters in 2006, the Head of Association of volunteer firefighter Airport Road branch Lagos comments; "We want to thank the government for their support and encouragement towards our work. To show us love by giving a befitting burial and state participation in the burial arrangement of the victims of the fire disaster was highly encouraging. The victims were treated as worthy sons and daughters of the nation, who have put up a gallant fight in the defense of their fellow beings and their fatherland as this will encourage others to join the voluntary fire service, so that the state can give them such burial in case they die in the discharge of their duties".

The compensation paid by the insurance organization to the families of the victims of the fire disaster is expected to encourage other members of the society to enroll for the voluntary fire service; the government also contributed financially to the families of the bereaved. Obviously, the deaths of these individuals was a deterrent to attracting new prospective volunteers, but seeing the government being so supportive, and the knowledge that volunteers where covered by insurance, was an inspiration to the workers to invite more volunteers, and for volunteers, a guarantee of the faith that was shown in them; an inspiration, or as would be more defined academically, a motivation. Various authors explain in their own theories how motivation can be defined, and used to influence the decision of these volunteers. This is highlighted in the next section.


To be familiar with how to attract and retain volunteers, it is imperative to identify key motives of individual volunteers and their effect on pro-social attitudes toward helping behaviour (Bussell and Forbes 2002). The primary objective of this literature review is to attempt some discussions of "Motivation in Volunteers", a complex difficulty, facing the NGOs' and Humanitarian Aid Agencies of today. Subsequently, this chapter is dedicated to the study of various theories about motivations over the years. Studies specifically relating to this area started in the early years to the present day.

In the troubled world-economy of today, Volunteerism seems more relevant today than the more frequently employed tools relating to Typical Employment methodologies of the past and present. The investigation of motivational factors in a group, individual in public sector surroundings is central to developing ways to better performances in an organization. The reason why motivation should be investigated in generic organizational behavior terms as well as public service and volunteer terms for this research is that there are some aspects of motivational theories that are related irrespective of the sector and industry. An understanding of motivation in broad terms, public service terms and volunteer terms in the literature review will go a long way in making sure that there can be a constructive influence on the public sector volunteer workers' performance levels.

In the last century preceded by the great Industrial Revolution and followed by the great Information Age, much has been said and done regarding employee motivation and the ways to augment or harness it to achieve superior organization goals. It started with the Hawthorne Studies of the 1920s (McCarney R, Warner J, Iliffe S, van Haselen R, Griffin M, Fisher P (2007) which in detail were initially carried out to determine the effects of Light on employee output, however by the way reflected the importance of working as a group, having a concerned supervisor and work credit were indeed the real drivers of efficiency.

Thus, started the long research in Human Motivation, culminating in such great works as Maslow's Hierarchy Theory (A.H. Maslow, A Theory of Human Motivation: Psychological Review 1943) which discussed motivation under such headings as: Physiological, safety, social, ego, and self- actualizing. He argued that the lower level needs had to be meet before moving over to the next higher level of need as to motivate employees while Herzberg's (1959) categorized motivation into two factors: motivators and hygiene's theory. Motivator or intrinsic factors, such as achievement and recognition, produce job satisfaction. Hygiene or extrinsic factors, such as pay and job security, produce job dissatisfaction. However it wasn't until the 1970's that work on Motivation in Volunteers began. While having much in common with motivation in employees if compared particularly to Herzberg's motivational hygiene theory, there are indeed some unique factors such as reciprocity, self esteem, personal growth, recognition and social understanding.

Furthermore, research by Wiehe et al (1977, pg 73-79) show that; of 490 persons contacting a volunteer recruitment and referral center requesting to be referred to a group of people agency for post as volunteers, 249 questionnaires were returned asking them to spot their motivation for seeking to be volunteers. Four categories of motivation were ordered by partakers in the research on the basis of most to least important: personal satisfaction, self-improvement, altruism, and demands from outside. Implications for the assignment and recruitment of volunteers are noted.

Gidron (1978:18-32) carried out a wide research in an understanding of volunteering motivation. For this reason he based his research on the studies and theories of Herzberg two factor theories. This two factor theory, as reviewed above, focused on both the intrinsic as well as extrinsic motives behind a working person. Gidron was one of the first researchers who believed that extrinsic factors might be found in the general drive to work in volunteers. He believed that volunteers were working for either the intrinsic motives which focused on self accomplishment and working towards the growth of a positive relationship with the society or towards things that are extrinsic, in an indirect way. This might comprise the need to gain some work experience that may come in handy in the future. For this reason he carried out a study which involved 317 volunteers across four mental and health institutions. The call for was to be able to spot the co relationship that might exist between different motivation factors and the age of the individual. He rounded it up that volunteers who were grown-up were actually more interested in volunteer work for intrinsic factors and it was the younger volunteers where work experience and indirect extrinsic factors also played some part on the whole motivation .

Terpstra's (1979) own model of motivation drew its inspiration from the motivational model presented as the hierarchy of need laid down by Maslow (1954). Maslow talked about five need levels in a motivational framework known as the physiological need, the safety need, the social need, the ego need and the need for self actualization. According to this model, the most essential needs had to be fulfilled before the next need of the human being comes into the play. Terpstra looked into this theory of Maslow from the angle of the industrialized age.

Maslow assumed that the most vital need was the physiological need. It is only after the accomplishment of this particular need that the role of other factors comes to the equation. In the case of our research of the volunteer fire fighters, the want for safety as laid behind in the need hierarchy holds significance. The individual mind and senses are more motivated to do better in an environment where the safety measures are good. This is why the primary research of the fire fighter volunteers and their motivation will also consider the element of safety in their work environment and job design.

More recently, Brewer et al. (2000) built up their research on the grounds of the 40 articles listed down by Perry and verified motivational attributes. They came up with four categories of motivation in the public services two of which are highly relevant in our study as well i.e. humanitarians and communitarians. These categories in more ways than one still follows the same principle that previous authors have modeled further outlining and suggesting that Motivation has been a critical part of novel thinking, especially towards staff and volunteer recruitment.

The subject that often revolves around Public service motivation is whether it can be actually used for the good of positively influencing the motivation level of employees in public service. Basics such as recruitment, selection, screening, retention, job performance and satisfaction are important to understand in a public service context as per the research scope of this paper. In the case of nonprofit organization, more than 60 percent of employees in a research carried out by Paul (2002) said that they worked in the organization with the motive to make a difference in the community. The lesser the economic incentive for working in an organization, the more probability there is that the intrinsic factors constitute the motivational force for the workers. His research concluded that workers in such environments emphasize on making a difference as well as a shared vision of the work place (Paul, 2002). Compared to workers in the private sector, these employees and workers were more responsive to factors such as being of help to the public, being able to make a difference to the community and doing a job which has meaning. As all these entail commitment to serve the community.

An important factor was also noticed in (2000) by Brewer et al. Who believed that individuals working in a voluntary position are always conscious of the fact that the mission of public service should not be compromised. In this case, the mission statement of the volunteer fire fighters should be respected in order for them to stay motivated with their work according to the research.

One of the most essential research methodologies and survey was done by McEwin and Jacobsen-D`Arcy in 2002. The research methodology and principle will also aid in the research work in assessing motivation of fire fighters as volunteers. The research carried out by McEwin and Jacobsen consisted of around 280 volunteers who came from a wide array of organization. The research was based on three separate stages. The first stage was focused on 40 volunteers who came from two organizations. They were given checklists, asked open ended questions and given the liberty to explain why they volunteers as well. On the basis of the participants and a literature review, there was the development and formulation of the final questionnaire with 15 categories. In the next stage, this survey was distributed to over 200 volunteers based on which the volunteer motivation inventory was developed consisting of forty statements. They came up with 8 motivational factors on a 5 point Likert scale which the research have decided to use in this research work. The eight motivational factors that were utilized include values, career, personal growth, recognition, hedonistic, social, reactive and reciprocity. Let us look into each one of this factor for a better understanding of the inventory.

McEwin and Jacobson (2002) 8 Motivational Factors


The individual might have strong personal or family values which have a relationship with volunteering. Every human being has a set of values and volunteering might be a constituent of this set.


The individual might be taking part in volunteer services for the purposes of acquiring experience and field. These volunteering services might in the end help them in their professional career or help them in finding jobs.


Personal Growth

The individual's personal growth needs are often met by the volunteering services.



The individual might be motivated by the ultimate recognition that might be received for the volunteering services that are given. This means a satisfaction of the recognition of contributions that are made to the society.


 This is associated with the happiness that might come with the act of being of assistance to the community


This a way of finding a pleasant feelings in the social construct of volunteering where they interact amongst each other and build their personal relationship network.


 The individual might be taking part in volunteer services as a reaction to a past incident. Therefore, this act might in fact be a need to address a personal past issue


The individual might see it as an equal exchange and views it as an act of higher good

Table 1

In summary, a research project carried out by Dr Judy Esmond et-al; (2004), explains that "organizations can use information on motivations to attract potential volunteers by tailoring recruitment messages to closely match their motivational needs; And also in assessing the motivational needs of new volunteers, organizations can ensure effective placement of volunteers into activities that meet their needs, by understanding their volunteers' motivations, organizations can seek to maintain volunteer satisfaction by ensuring these motivations are fulfilled".


As far back as 2 decades ago, Willing (1994) asserted that volunteerism, in general, was decreasing, and thereby negatively effecting recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters. The fact that Nigeria is still experiencing such problems further highlights the recline that the country hopes to eradicate. As Arinze (2007) comments, "Our fire fighting service is now moribund. Let us resuscitate the fire brigade so that lives and properties will not be lost unnecessarily. It is time to check whether some people are collecting the allocation for instruments meant for the fire fighting service or there was no allocation for it at all. The continued neglect of our fire service institutions is a continued neglect of the citizenry".

The following statement, points out to a degraded mode of operations services in Nigeria, not only in the fire service but in other functional divisions of the Ministry of Works. Looting of money and other fraudulent activities has ensured that the execution of assignments in many sectors of the government is underfunded and in effect renders these sectors un-effective. This has also affected the fire service in Nigeria and its ability to attract volunteers, as the comments above describe. As a result, there are inadequate facilities to work with and lack of funding to cater for the staff and volunteers, among other problems.

Other critical issues included a lack of appropriate training and qualification programs which are not limited to the volunteers themselves, but the fire service department as a whole. Same author comments that certain forms of fires have not been properly researched and equipment to counter these fires are thus unavailable as a result of a lack of knowledge and information.

In summary, as a result of these factors, "many houses were razed down by fire and there was no fire fighters insight. Many lives were lost and properties destroyed. That fire would have been checkmated if we had an effective fire fighting weapons and well enough trained fire fighters in place. I am trying to use this piece to draw our attention to the deplorable state of the fire fighting system. We should not wait until more lives and properties are lost before we will do something about that organization. Nigerians have been known for their fire brigade approach to things. But now our fire brigade is down due to small numbers of staff and inadequate weapons to fight the fire".