Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Nonprofit Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Abbi Haggerty


Nonprofit organizations exist to meet community needs—often competing against 1.5 million other nonprofits for resources (e.g., money and staff). Consequently, these charitable organizations rely on volunteers to support critical functions, such as fundraising and service provision. Without effective volunteer recruitment strategies, nonprofits may fail to attract the human capital needed for these functions. Furthermore, undergraduate students—conduits of the democratic purpose of higher education—represent a special group of volunteers (who also volunteer at twice the rate of their non-college attending peers). Understanding the volunteer motivations of undergraduate students enrolled in liberal arts colleges provides implications for future research, volunteer recruitment efforts (for both higher education and the nonprofit sector), as well as implications for required volunteering and enhancing the volunteer experience (and reducing barriers). An online survey was used to gather this information—data was collected and analyzed from 88 participants (undergraduate students from a liberal arts college in Richmond, Virginia) that had recently volunteered. This study supported relevant literature on motivations to volunteer—students were: 1) motivated to volunteer for a number or mix of reasons, and 2) altruistic motivations (e.g., humanitarian values) were the greatest influence on decisions to volunteer. This research also supported the importance of understanding, enhancement, career, and social motivations to volunteer; whereas recognition, protective, and requirement were the least influential motivations to volunteer among undergraduate college students in a liberal arts college.