Is your organization looking to attract young volunteers? There are a lot of organizations looking for volunteers, and many more dreaming of recruiting millennial and other younger volunteers. This process is more than just recruiting, but also figuring out how to retain and foster these youth into a lifelong partnership of support.
Recruiting may involve social medial and a lot of word of mouth support. Get members talking about your organization and what you do, particularly highlighting efforts that benefit your community. Develop peer-to-peer relationships and consider their needs (like does your group serve only coffee and tea during meeting breaks? A little juice or soda and a few cookies will go a long way into making your younger volunteers feel included and part of the group). Get them involved in advising on outreach and fun activities. Many will have a feel for marketing and fun activities.1/
Think about first impressions--try not to scare them off no matter how excited you are to see them. If you are able to get a potential volunteer to show up, try not to immediately scare them off. Don’t assume that they are interested in performing the dirtiest, grueling, job available...they may have more to offer. A better way to start the conversation is to ask what they are interested in doing and how they see themselves helping the organization. Who knows they may have much grander plans and skills than what you have imagined.
Volunteering could be helping with a parade or other fun celebration!
Look for their ‘what’s in it for me’ and the ‘greater good’ goals. Explore these two areas, perhaps by telling stories, to clarify what they are willing and able to do, and how long they may want to work (at one time, over the month, etc.). There is a good chance that tasks that would ‘make a difference’ are going to be much more appealing and bring the volunteer back in the future. Look for opportunities.1/
Did the volunteer mention an educational requirement? Find out what they may need to get the credits which may be critical for graduation or getting into college. This might be a letter documenting their work, hours contributed, skills learned, a formal evaluation, and more. Make sure you understand what is needed and are able to guide activities so that everyone’s needs are achieved.
Share the fun. It may be difficult to give away a really fun assignment, that project may be just the thing to collaborate on. A youth volunteer is going to come in with some fresh ideas, different ways to get them done, and often an idealistic view. You both can learn from each other and have a good time doing it! One project that was very productive is getting youth involved in how to best market your organization. In most cases, they have been the target for marketing their whole lives and have a great feel for what works, and what doesn’t.
Say thank you and appreciate all they do. This is important for any volunteer of any age. It is also one of the most overlooked shortfalls. This might be a verbal thank you, formal letter, memento, or coveted award. Document, perhaps in a cover letter, what made their service so special, your undying appreciation, and award date. It will bring back wonderful memories of working for your organization in the future. Feeling unappreciated is the best way to buzzkill motivation of volunteers and employees in any organization. 2/
1 How To Attract More Young People To Volunteer At Your Nonprofit (https://bit.ly/2Z1m4xf)
2 Encourage The Young Ones: Inspiring Students To Volunteer (https://bit.ly/2QuiAQP)
What volunteering brings to our communities
The Annual BBC 101 Clean up Brigade! This tough local Chamber-led competition is more than just a fun event. It is a way, like several other local volunteer events, to build pride and celebrate our community.
Not only is there a generous helping of community competition going on, but where else could you go to win the coveted Trash Trophy? Or how about attend an award ceremony, chow down at a free barbeque, and have a whole lot of fun? This is so much fun that it is easy to overlook that this event, along with many others, are a great way create a cohesive and vibrant community.
Volunteering can help create the dynamics and support reminiscent of an extended, multifaceted family, where young and old get a chance to interact and communicate, mentor and explore, and share a good laugh.
Why do it? For some, it is all about being social and having fun! Volunteering can help create the dynamics and support reminiscent of an extended, multifaceted family, where young and old get a chance to interact and communicate, mentor and explore, and share a good laugh.
For others, volunteering can be used to strengthen a resume for those that lack work experience and skill. Volunteering can demonstrate the ability to work with people, complete projects, flexibility and ingenuity, demonstrate work ethics, and often open doors of opportunity.
All ages benefit--Even seniors! Research shows that volunteering can lower mortality rates, increase strength and energy, decrease rates of depression, and reduced physical limitations.1 It is also a great way to increase opportunities to socialize, create challenges and stimulation, share stories, and provide opportunities to interact with all age levels.
Who volunteers? In 2018, 77.34 million adults in American (or about one-third of the population!) volunteered nearly 6.9 billion hours. Millions more help out with ‘informal volunteering’ activities supporting friends and family (43.1 percent) or doing favors for neighbors (51.4).2
Volunteering can also be broken down into different age groups. Generation X has the highest rate of volunteering at 36.4 percent with Baby Boomers topping the list with 2.2 billion hours of service. Even Millennials are stepping up to do more in several areas, particularly in Utah and the District of Columbia.2
What are they doing? One in three volunteers help raise funds for nonprofit organizations. Many give time to religious groups (32 percent), with just over 25 percent supporting sports or arts groups, and another nearly 20 percent supporting educational and youth service groups. Activities often include food donation/meal preparation (34 percent); transportation and labor (23 percent); tutoring (23 percent) and mentoring (26 percent), and some (just over 20 percent) share professional and management expertise.2
Is it worth it? A 2018 Volunteering in America report2,3 calculated the value of the time volunteered through organizations to be worth $167 billion (based on the Independent Sector’s estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour for 2017) and that does not even include the other millions more who support friends and family (43.1 percent) and do favors for their neighbors (51.4 percent).
Thinking more locally, volunteering at an event such as the Bay Area Brigade gives you a chance to meet new people outside of your normal circle, expand networking to resources and knowledge, and perhaps pave the way for future interactions (such as when job seeking or hiring). But most of all, it is also a great way to help build a cohesive and beautiful community that we all can be proud of.
Photos provided by Timm Slater. Thank you Timm!