Motivating Volunteers with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: 2020 Governor’s Conference on Volunteerism

Presented by Michele Lapierre, Program Manager, Senior Companion Program, Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc; Kathleen Stuart, Program Coordinator, Senior Companion Program, Community Action Program Belknap-Merrimack Counties, Inc.

Session Description:

Remember Maslow’s hierarchy of needs? Just about everybody got a dose of Maslow somewhere along the line either in high school social studies class, or college psychology or sociology courses.

People are complicated, so there’s never going to be one easy formula. But I find myself drawn to Maslow’s Hierarchy as a strategy-planning tool because it gives a starting point for action (those practical, physiological needs and barriers) — with a clear route (up through the levels of the pyramid) to travel from there. 

 “I’d love to help you, but…”

Motivation is only part of the equation, remember. Would you expect a bare-footed volunteer to climb a mountain for your cause? No matter what reward or incentive is at the end of the journey, first, he’ll need to have a pair of boots. And a rope. And maybe a climbing partner, too, depending on the challenge ahead.

We’ll discuss and brainstorm how this theory relates to the motivation of volunteers and how we can meet the needs of our communities.

Session Goals:

  • Understand the levels and how it impacts your program
  • Learn how can we help volunteers “climb” the pyramid
  • Plan how can we use this theory to increase the number of volunteers in our program
  • Understand how can we use this theory to increase retention/ longevity



Michele Lapierre was born and raised in New Hampshire. She has a BA from UNH in Sociology with minors in Philosophy and Communication. Her background is a combination of fundraising/ event planning and policy/ benefits. She has worked with a multitude of groups of individuals, from at-risk teens to individuals with disabilities to homeless women and currently, seniors. Michele has 3 young adult children.  She loves camping, kayaking, and embracing the beauty of our planet.

Kathleen Stuart was born and raised in Massachusetts. She graduated with honors in 2002 with a  BA in Mental Health Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University. Kathleen has worked with various adult populations in her career, including dually diagnosed adults, adults with disabilities, and, presently, seniors – decidedly her favorite group thus far. Kathleen lives in Rockingham County, NH, and has 3 school-aged children. She is particularly fond of animals, interior design, and being a mom!