5 ways to encourage nonprofit volunteerships from today’s youth | Miratel Solutions

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5 great ways to encourage youth nonprofit volunteers

A few years ago I volunteered via my workplace to provide a few evenings help to the well-known nonprofit (the) Ronald McDonald House. Beyond it being a very enriching experience I was also pleased to see a small squad of young teenagers (probably 14 and 15 year-olds) headed up by one adult finishing up their early evening ‘shift’ at the centre, they were preparing vegetables for that coming evening’s dinner. I got around to asking how these teens had got involved with helping a charity and the answers included ‘my parents volunteer here’ through to ‘my school helps on a regular basis’.

Ultimately though it was extremely encouraging to see school age children giving their time and effort to a nonprofit – an experience that is quite likely to influence their awareness and understanding of philanthropy for years to come.

All of which leads me to today’s topic; what can nonprofit organizations do to encourage volunteerism among today’s youth? Steps in this direction are a positive method to help cement the commitment from the volunteers and donors of tomorrow. These five steps can help generate youth volunteers for any charity large or small.

Create a youth volunteer page on your website: Find a snappy name for the page and think about how you’ll convey the message and objectives of your organization to the younger generation. Consider including a survey and really dig down into finding those who have at least a passing interest and concern for what your charity strives to accomplish. Consider networking with local schools, churches or other youth groups to help spread the word about volunteer opportunities for the young.

Explain and explore the benefits the child receives: It’s more than just saying they were able to help a nonprofit – volunteering can assist them in understanding the world in a different way and ideally can help make them a well-rounded young adult. Moreover so many children are competing for scholarships and other grants that advanced education facilities now consider far more than grades, such as looking at the citizenship and community efforts taken by the young applicant. Nonprofit volunteerism can help to make their applications stand out from the crowd.

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Capture the enthusiasm of the young: I’m guilty of speaking in general terms at times and I’ll do so now; but one large advantage of the young is their (typically) undying enthusiasm and positivity. Yet to be jaded and without the cynicism that often impacts adults, many young people are desperate to make a difference in a world they perceive as ‘adult dominated’ but aren’t often presented with the opportunity. For a teen to even be recognised as valuable resource by a nonprofit will encourage them to volunteer and well thought out planning means that they can be just as helpful in the capacity of volunteering as any adult.

Encourage new ideas: I can guarantee that the thoughts and ideas of a fifteen year old will be very different to the thoughts of your other volunteers. Help your young volunteers to make a difference by encouraging them to think outside of the box and bounce around new ideas and solutions to exisiting volunteer activities. Crucially let them see that their initiatives are given proper consideration and even implemented during these activities – ask them how they’d network and share your message and what they feel their peers would best respond to.

Partner them with adults: Few things leave a bigger impact on a young man or woman than having the experience of working side by side with an experienced adult. It provides them the chance to ask important questions about the work, about philanthropy in general and find out how and why the adult got involved with volunteering in the first place. It also reinforces the value they are providing by helping out and being heard by someone who has a deeper relationship with the organization.

I hope that these ideas may help you to give more consideration to youth volunteer opportunities at your organization and if you’ve employed other strategies that have been useful please add them in the comments below.

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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centre, eBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including PCI compliant inbound telephone fundraising, outbound telephone fundraising, online fundraising, lottery fundraising services, donation processing and receipting and direct mail fundraising services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all our business decisions and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.

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