In Are You Fully Charged? Tom Rath quotes a study on Pro Social Incentives for teams. I had come across a similar idea presented before in Drive by Dan Pink. My own experiences participating in sporting teams and at ThoughtWorks further emphasized the argument for it.
When motivating ourselves we are much more incentivised if the reward being offered for our work benefits others through our giving rather than receiving a reward ourselves.
In one of the experiments, good work was rewarded with money that participants were directed to spend on a bill, expense, or gift for themselves. In contrast, participants in the “pro-social group” were given an incentive but instructed to spend the money on a teammate instead. Even though the study was conducted with a group of pharmaceutical salespeople (which is a traditionally competitive profession), the team that had incentive to do good for someone else saw greater gains in performance than the team with a more selfish incentive. Are You Fully Charged? by Tom Rath
From my personal experiences I have found my work to be much more rewarding when the result of my work allows me to provide a benefit to another person and not just to myself. That said, I believe that a Pro Social Incentive is most effective when their is already some baseline of incentive for the individual already established, i.e. Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs.