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Measuring Volunteering: A Behavioral Approach



This article presents the results of studying two different forms of probing about volunteering. One is the standard perceptual approach used by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) in which respondents are asked if they volunteer. The other is an experimental approach that uses behavioral prompts in which respondents are asked if they did certain things or performed certain behaviors. These two sets of questions were asked of the same respondents in the same survey, using the same data collection organization, the US Bureau of the Census that conducts the annual BLS survey of volunteering, thus eliminating many of the common sources of measurement error. The results show that behavioral prompts are more accurate than the perceptual prompts in identifying who is and isn’t a volunteer. Behavioral prompts result in higher estimates of volunteer engagement (more are classified as volunteers) and higher levels of commitment (more volunteer hours are captured)

Topics: volunteering, measurement, methodology
Year: 2005
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