Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Abraham S. Fischler College of Education and School of Criminal Justice


Gina L. Peyton

Committee Member

Anne Joslin


Civil Air Patrol, functional analysis, Motivation, Public service, Volunteer Functions Inventory, Volunteers


This applied dissertation was developed to expand the understanding of the motivations of long-term volunteers in a civilian auxiliary of a military branch. The organization examined was the official auxiliary of the United States Air Force known as the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). The organization found that it was retaining only about two thirds of its members beyond their first year. The study was conducted to gain insight into the motivations of volunteers, their satisfaction levels, and length of service with the hope that such understanding may help improve recruiting and retention efforts.

A survey employing functional analysis to assess volunteer motivations and satisfaction levels was conducted. This study utilized the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) to collect data on six areas of motivation: values, understanding, enhancement, career, social, and protective. Responses to the VFI were used to examine four research questions regarding which volunteer motivations were strongest for members, how motivations differed based on age category, current levels of volunteer satisfaction, and the differences in satisfaction levels based on volunteer lengths of service. Prior research suggested that this is the first time the VFI was used with the unique organization of the CAP.

The VFI and a supplemental demographic questionnaire were administered to 102 adult respondents from a CAP wing in a small northeastern state in the United States. The strongest motivation overall for members involved values. All age groups (i.e., 18-21, 31-35, 51-67, and over 68) reported values as the strongest motivation except 22- to 30-year-olds, who reported understanding as its strongest motivation. Less than one third reported being satisfied with their volunteer service. Satisfaction levels did vary based upon length of service. Those members having 20 or more years of service had the highest satisfaction rate, and those with less than 11 years reported the lowest rate of satisfaction.

Findings suggested that the satisfaction of volunteer motivations may correlate with length of service. The implication is the VFI can offer insight to organizations and help them better appreciate the unique needs of their volunteers. Improved understanding should not only help the CAP, but any volunteer group that strives to improve the recruiting and retention efforts of both new and long-term volunteers.

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