Journal of Community Psychology

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Why mentor? A validation study of the volunteer functions inventory for use in youth mentoring

Abstract This study explores the functional motivations of volunteers in youth mentoring programs and tests the validity of the Volunteer Functions Inventory (VFI) for this population. Participants included 473 volunteer mentors matched within a one‐to‐one mentoring program. The study utilizes a mixed‐methods approach to validate the VFI, which was administered before the match. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were employed to test for content validity and determine fit. These were complemented by an emergent theme analysis from a semi‐structured interview, which included questions assessing mentor motivations. Findings suggest a five‐factor structure model best captures functional motivations. In addition, results from the qualitative analysis suggest there may be previously unexplored domains to consider for contemporary volunteer populations. These include community/civic responsibility, organizational structure and reputation, and self‐concept. Future research should seek to refine scales that are uniquely predictive of mentor motivations to expand practical applications for use.

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