An investigation into the motivations of volunteers at the Edinburgh International Film Festival and their contribution to the event
As a vital element of the events industry, volunteerism has been widely discussed by researchers (Finkelstein and Brannick 2007; Love et al. 2012; Smith et al. 2014). Since volunteers do not receive financial benefits (Monga 2006), many studies aimed to investigate what motivates individuals to donate their time (Van der Wagen 2007; Handy et al. 2010; Harflett 2015). As a result, findings revealed that apart from personal motives, individuals were also driven by the opportunity to gain key skills and thus improve their employability (Katz and Rosenberg 2005; Beaven and Wright 2006; Handy et al. 2010). However, some believe that recruiting volunteers may be problematic, as the limited time-frame of volunteer roles does not allow them to socialise, or learn the specific skills their roles require (Van der Wagen 2007; Kolar et al. 2016). Although, volunteer-retention may be a convenient solution to these issues (Love et al. 2012). There is a lack of literature on volunteer experience when it comes to the context of film festivals, however these types of events are significant for volunteers as well as the host cities (Quinn 2006), and the film industry (Grunwell and Ha 2007). This study explored the volunteer experience at the Edinburgh International Film Festival (EIFF), and in order to gain an understanding of the volunteers' perspectives a qualitative approach has been used. All nine participants of this study were former EIFF-volunteers and were selected through convenience sampling. Most respondents were under 25. Three of them were students or recent graduates the first time they volunteered with EIFF, and five of them were returning volunteers. Primary data was collected through semi-structured interviews and was analysed using thematic analysis. During the interviews a number of factors were identified, which affected the participants' motivations. These included personal motives such as their interest in film and their desire to meet like-minded people, as well as some career-related motives, including gaining industry-related experience, and networking. Participants also listed additional motives which were specific to EIFF, for instance the significance of the festival in Scotland, and the opportunity to meet celebrities. Further themes have also been explored, including employability after volunteering at EIFF, volunteer satisfaction, and volunteer retention. The results showed a link between volunteer satisfaction and plans to return as volunteers in the future. In addition, correlation between volunteering at EIFF and further employment has also been identified. The findings of this study led to some practical suggestions and recommendations for future research. These may be beneficial for organisations that rely on the contribution of volunteers in order to meet operational demands, as developing successful volunteer programmes may help them build the next set of industry professionals.