Mutual aid groups have allowed community members to respond collectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing essential support to the vulnerable. While research has begun to explore the benefits of participating in these groups, there is a lack of work investigating who is likely to engage in this form of aid-giving, although early accounts suggest that existing volunteers have played a significant part in the mutual aid phenomena. Taking a social identity approach, the present study sought to identify what social psychological processes predict this continued engagement by exploring predictors of coordinated COVID-19 aid-giving for pre-existing volunteers. A two-wave longitudinal online survey study (N = 214) revealed that volunteer role identity among existing volunteers at T1 (pre-pandemic) was positively associated with volunteer-beneficiary between-group closeness at T1, which in turn was positively associated with community identification at T1. This in turn positively predicted coordinated COVID-19 aid-giving at T2 (3 months later). This paper therefore reveals the intra- and intergroup predictors of pandemic-related coordinated aid-giving in pre-existing volunteers. Implications for voluntary organisations and emergency voluntary aid provision are discussed.

Cite as

Wakefield, J., Bowe, M. & Kellezi, B. 2022, 'Who helps and why? A longitudinal exploration of volunteer role identity, between-group closeness, and community identification as predictors of coordinated helping during the COVID-19 pandemic', British Journal of Social Psychology, 61(3), pp. 907-923. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjso.12523

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Last updated: 19 October 2022
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