Repeat and Non-returning Volunteers: The Promise of Episodic Events for Volunteer Recruitment and Retention

Sara Compion, Lucas Meijs, Ram A. Cnaan, Irina Krasnopolskaya, Georg von Schnurbein, Samir Abu-Rumman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this article, we are concerned with the recruitment potential of one-off episodic events for attracting and retaining volunteers. Our specific focus is on the neglected pool of non-returning volunteers. These are one-off event participants who are unwilling to volunteer again in future. Many studies generally document an overwhelming willingness of people to repeat volunteering after participating in a one-off event, either due to reasons of social desirability or because they had a good volunteering experience. The positive participant reaction at most one-off events leads to the assumption that such events are useful arenas in which to generate a pool of potential repeat volunteers. Yet, scant attention is given to those people at the events who have no inclination for further volunteering. This article addresses that gap. It is part of a special issue on episodic volunteering from an international perspective and uses data from nineteen countries across the world. Our statistical analyses, which compares returning and non-returning volunteers, finds that on average, 7.42% of episodic event participants do not want to volunteer again in future. The results reveal that younger, less educated, novices who participate on their own are more likely to report unwillingness to repeat volunteering. Non-repeat volunteers unexpectedly had higher levels of altruistic motivation, and as expected, a less satisfactory one-off volunteer experience. The article concludes with implications and recommendations for organizers of events employing episodic volunteers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)472-482
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, International Society for Third-Sector Research.


  • Episodic volunteering
  • Motivation
  • Retention
  • Social embeddedness
  • Volunteer satisfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Strategy and Management


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