The aim of this paper is to develop an analytical framework and model for understanding motivation and effort among members of Community-based WLANs. Wireless communities represent a stimulating area for research due to their organizational uniqueness as loosely-knit communities of wireless enthusiasts who cooperate to set up and operate a wireless communications infrastructure; in other words, they represent an example of collective action. Thus, two research issues are critical in understanding the mechanics behind the sustained existence of wireless communities: motivation – why individuals become community members – and coordination – how individuals within a community interact with each other. Focusing on the first issue, the paper provides a theoretical explanation of motivation which, in turn, informs the design of a conceptual model. According to this explanation, an individual decides to participate in a wireless community because of intrinsic as well as extrinsic motives. These motives are balanced against the perceived effort to join and participate in the community to jointly determine a suitable participation level for each community member. The resulting model adopts a cost-benefit (utility) perspective that is being empirically tested through a large-scale questionnaire survey.