Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


School of Business

First Advisor

Dirk Barram

Second Advisor

Craig Johnson

Third Advisor

Laurie Yates


The present study used an existing model, the Volunteer Functions Inventory, to test the functional motives of volunteers and employees to engage in or continue service with a rural nonprofit organization. Self-Determination theory provides the underlying framework for the Volunteer Functions Inventory and the six motivational functions: understanding, values, enhancement, career, social, and protective. The model was tested using a sample of 168 employees and volunteers from Area Agencies on Aging located in rural Oregon. The results indicated that the protective function, reducing personal guilt by serving others in the community with less means, similarly motivates employees and volunteers to begin or continue service with rural agencies. The study found no distinct differences in motivation based on agency location or length of service. However, the study concluded women are more motivated by career aspirations than men. The study also revealed a difference between participants age 35 and under and all other age categories. The 35 and under population had the highest motivation scores for enhancement and the lowest for understanding. The results of this study aid rural nonprofit organizations in understanding how to efficiently engage and retain talent by focusing on motivations similar to employees and volunteers and avoiding motives contradictory across talent demographics.