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Volunteer Recruitment and Converting Suspects into Raving Fans

10 Ideas to Get You Thinking About Volunteer Recruitment!

5 Types of Customers

Let’s look deeper at that volunteer base. Do you think of your volunteer base as being only those volunteers already on board? It’s much more than this. People in sales and marketing understand that their customer base goes beyond those who are existing customers. It also includes people to whom they’ve yet to make a sale. They “grade” customers according to their relationship to the business into categories termed suspects, prospects, new, repeat or raving fans.


Suspects are people you don’t even know – yet. You don’t know if they are interested in volunteering, so you need to begin by attracting their attention. To make contact with suspects, you can use a broad-based approach (such as direct bulk-mail or newspaper advertising) or a more selective approach (such as advertising in trade journals or professional publications).


Prospects are people who have shown an interest in volunteering but have not yet signed on. Maintain regular contact with prospects to encourage them to take the next step and volunteer. Send them your newsletter, invite them to your functions and call periodically to see if they’re now ready to make a commitment.


New volunteers are like new customers to a business. First impressions are vital if you are to retain their custom and keep them coming back. Devote part of your recruitment plan to ensuring that all new volunteers immediately feel like they belong.


Repeat and long-term volunteers are as valuable as repeat customers in a business. Look after them and never take them for granted. Recognize them publicly in your volunteer recruitment campaign, as people are inspired by stories of such dedication.

Raving Fans

Raving fans are satisfied volunteers who are so impressed with your organization that they tell everyone they meet how great you are. They blow your trumpet for you and actively recruit others to volunteer. Encourage raving fans by providing satisfying volunteer work, ongoing support and regular recognition.

Make or Break

Customer service can make or break a business. It can also make or break your volunteer programs. Volunteers tell others about their volunteering experience. Are they raving fans? What are they saying about your organization right now? Would it be something to fear or to cheer?

28 Years Plus

Research suggests that we tell 6 or more people when we have experienced bad customer service. Recent research has found that we tell others about good customer service for an average of 1.5 years afterwards. For how many years after do you think we tell others about bad customer service? On average for 28 years afterwards!

Your Mission

Here is the mission for your highly successful volunteer management and volunteer recruitment program. Aim to convert

  • your suspects into prospects
  • your prospects into new volunteers
  • your new volunteers into repeat volunteers
  • your repeat volunteers into raving fans!

This article has been adapted from the book Count Me In! 501 Ideas on Recruiting Volunteers by Dr Judy Esmond

Here are more ideas on volunteer recruitment, volunteer recognition and volunteer management.