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The volunteer matrix: positioning and volunteering

  • Social Isolation
  • Employment
  • Work-Life Balance
  • Communication


In the fierce competition that volunteer-involving-organisations face nowadays over many resources, but particularly over people’s willingness to donate their time for a specific organisation, marketing strategies should be used to recruit more suitable volunteers. If the organisation works to improve its ability to recruit volunteers, it needs to correctly identify its target groups, but also understand what the positioning of the organisation is and what type of volunteering roles are being offered. This can be done by using positioning and perceptual mapping, two marketing tools which can be implemented in the volunteering context. Positioning is the 'relative competitive comparison' a product occupies in a given market as perceived by the target market audience. In order to make positioning more visual, a perceptual mapping can be used as a graphics technique that attempts to visually display the perceptions of customers or potential customers, usually on a two dimensional matrix. A very common perceptual mapping matrix in commercial marketing will be based on quality of the product versus its price. Thus, we can have four types of brands or products: high quality-high price (“prestigious product”); high quality-low price (“a bargain”); low quality-low price (“common products”) and low quality-high price (“rip-off”). Presented here is the volunteer matrix – a perceptual mapping which can help volunteer organisations deal with the growing competition with other similar organisations in accessing the common-pool resource of volunteering. The volunteer matrix is also based on price and quality. The price axis moves between high and low costs attached to the volunteering experience (such as time, tangible costs, emotional difficulties, social costs and anxiety, and opportunity costs); while the quality axis (total quality of the volunteering experience) moves from poor to good and includes all the various benefits attached to volunteering (social, warm glow, career, tangible, as well as physical, mental and social well-being). Image: Volunteer Firefighter, NSW, Nadia308 / flickr

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