Erin Hudnall

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Katie E Corcoran

Committee Co-Chair

Christopher P Scheitle

Committee Member

Rachel E Stein


Spontaneous volunteerism, or emergent volunteer behavior, is characterized by an individual's actions of impulsively offering volunteer services immediately following the occurrence of a natural disaster or community tragedy, such as a flood or terrorist attack. This type of volunteerism differs from traditional volunteer activities that are usually preplanned and not related to a recent tragedy. It is unclear what types of motivations spur individuals to volunteer after a disaster, whether spontaneous volunteers' experiences lead to willingness for continued volunteerism in the future, and whether motivations and experiences differ significantly by context. To study this phenomenon, spontaneous volunteers who offered help during the summer of 2016 southern West Virginia floods were surveyed. Following the Empathy-Altruism model of prosocial behavior, the impact of spontaneous volunteers' types of motivations and experiences during volunteering on their willingness to volunteer in the future was assessed. Results showed that differing motivation types can be influential on spontaneous disaster volunteers' willingness for future volunteerism, especially when their experiences while volunteering are taken into account. Few results align with previous research while others are contradictory, providing a rationale for continued research on the uniqueness of spontaneous volunteerism.