Provide young people volunteer opportunities beyond events and education

Young people are interested in more than just special event volunteering and education/mentorship/tutoring experiences.

I used to work at SFU, where I was responsible for getting SFU Volunteer Services up and running. Once and a while I’d review the volunteer experiences we had coming in from community organizations, and about 90% of the opportunities could be qualified as one of the following:

  • Day-of event volunteering
  • Tutoring youth
  • Mentoring youth
  • Running camps or other educational experiences for youth

It’s been a few years since I was at SFU, and I suspect the above 90% list could be expanded to include social media volunteer opportunities as well.

Not all Millennials want to be teachers. And the ones that already are teachers – they probably don’t want to spend their time doing more of the same of their day job. And event volunteering is a great first step for new volunteers, but what about the ones who have interested in deeper, more meaningful opportunities? And re: social media – just because someone uses a tool (like Twitter), doesn’t mean they are capable of developing strategy and effectively representing an organization on that same tool.

So what are some other options? Here are 5 random ideas:

  • Drafting press releases
  • Curating content for your organization’s blog/newsletter
  • Research (related to your cause/your business processes/your supporters etc.)
  • Providing advice on how to connect better with their university/workplace
  • Serving on a task force meant to strategize re: branding, supporter engagement, use of technology

Think about each of the areas in your organization – internal processes, programs, marketing, fundraising, etc. and think to yourself, “How could a young person’s voice/expertise/ideas/effort make this area even better?” And recruit for that.

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