Bring in young volunteers

July 31, 2013

Bring in young volunteers

Some nonprofits will accept anyone who wants to volunteer their time and contribute to the organization, but creating strategies to bring in young people is especially important to philanthropic programs. Millennials, teenagers and even older children are energetic, willing to work and aware of social issues that affect their generation. By getting younger people to donate their time, nonprofits can take their volunteer program to the next level.

While it may sound like a good idea to add young people to the volunteer team, nonprofits may struggle to attract today's youth, individuals that tends to be very busy. Below are some considerations decision-makers at organizations need to think about when striving to draw in students and recent college graduates to volunteer:

Make experiences mutually beneficial
Young people want to drive change and make a positive impact on the world, but they're also constantly looking for ways to make a strong impression on a potential school or employer. If organizations offer resume-building opportunities, young people will flock to them and be willing to volunteer a few hours of their day on a regular basis. According to npENGAGE, young generations want to strengthen their personal skills or gain new tools when participating in volunteer programs.

The source used examples such as the chance to swing a hammer, plant flower beds or paint walls as tasks that many organizations are asking young volunteers to do. However, these jobs often aren't appropriate as these individuals want to use technology, work on campaigns and get their name on something they can be proud of. Meeting the needs of young generations can help nonprofits build a more dynamic volunteer program.

Draw in their parents
For many kids and teens, their parents are the ones making final decisions on what their children will participate in. Some parents are hesitant to allow their kids to take part in certain volunteer programs because they are worried about their safety or they want their children to focus on their studies. This is where nonprofit leaders have to make sure they are harnessing the power of the Internet to influence Mom and Dad, according to a blog post for VolunteerMatch.

Nonprofits that have a sterling reputation for their work are more likely to get noticed by parents and the best way to catch the eye of local residents is to have a presence on the Web and in local media sources. Social media platforms, websites and blogs are resources parents can check out and learn about a nonprofit's volunteer program. They can also read about recent initiatives spearheaded by the organization in the newspaper. By getting parents onboard, nonprofits may be able to get more young people to volunteer.

Catch the eye of younger generations
Many young people need an incentive to donate their time, and nonprofit decision-makers should keep this in mind when trying to recruit individuals in college, high school and even grade school. Here are some tips provided by The NonProfit Times on how to engage younger people to join a volunteer team:

  • Don't make them travel far: Nonprofits are much more likely to get young people to come to their volunteer opportunities if they are close to their home or campus.
  • Create group opportunities: Many young people do things in large groups or are attracted by the chance to meet new people. Volunteer events that are social will be a lot more popular.
  • Choose projects that have value: Working on long campaigns is better suited for older volunteers, while young people will be happy with a task that can be completed in one day or over a weekend. 
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