Don’t dump social media on young volunteers

There are a few types of volunteer roles for which organizations commonly recruit young volunteers. While social media may be one of the ones that is explicitly recruited for, often social media sneaks onto the plates of Millennial volunteers.

Imagine an event committee. The event needs to be promoted, and the marketing person decides that social media is going to be one of the tools used to spread the word. The committee looks around the table, and all eyes eventually fall to the young person.

What’s wrong with this picture?

  • The young person may have no interest in adding this to their volunteer commitment.
  • The person may not actually even use “the twitter” or Facebook pages, etc.
  • The person may have wanted to be on the committee to gain/use other skills like sponsorship, communications, logistics or volunteer management.
  • Just because someone knows how to use a phone, it doesn’t mean they can build a telemarketing campaign, and the same goes for social media.

Don’t assume.

Here are some possible alternative actions:

  • Explicitly include social media skills during the committee recruitment so that you can screen for people that know what they’re doing and want to do it.
  • Have the person who is familiar with social media train another member who is more interested in it.
  • Delegate social media to a staff person who is better equipped to represent the organization publicly.
  • Don’t use social media at all. The decision to use it may not have been an informed one in the first place.

I speak from direct experience. Even though I’m at the oldest end of the Millennial age range, I’m often the youngest person in a room. And I’m pretty sure eyes weren’t falling on me because of spinach in my teeth.