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Build it and they will come: Volunteer opportunities and volunteering

TitleBuild it and they will come: Volunteer opportunities and volunteering
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsDeri-Armstrong, C., Devlin R. Anne, and Seifi F.
JournalDepartment of Economics Working Paper
Date PublishedOctober
Keywordscharitable organizations, endogeneity, geo-coding, proximity to charities, volunteer

Formal volunteering takes place on behalf of charitable or non-profit organizations. While the physical presence of these organizations is usually required for citizens who want to volunteer, the physical presence of charitable organizations varies from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Until now, no one has examined the role of charity proximity on volunteer decisions. In this paper we use information on the location of registered charities in Canada merged with survey information on the location of individuals and their volunteering decisions to examine how the physical proximity of charities ('Access') affects volunteer behaviour. Careful attention is paid to the possibility that the measure of access might be endogenous: organizations and volunteers may respond to the same unobservable factors when deciding where to locate. Our results imply that access does matter for the decision to volunteer as well as for the amount of time devoted to volunteering: increasing the number of charitable organizations within a one-kilometre buffer around an individual's place of residence by 1% increases the predicted probability of volunteering by 0.9%. We find that the impact of an additional charity on the likelihood of volunteering decreases with distance to the individual's residence, suggesting that the location of charities, indeed, matters when it comes to influencing volunteering behaviour.

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