Don’t rely on young volunteers

I’m not saying you can’t rely on young volunteers, it’s just better if you don’t have to.

With any volunteer role, if the world will fall apart because an individual volunteer is not able to show up for a role, there’s a flaw in the role design.

Millennial volunteers have diverse time commitments that are often fast changing – high pressure work deadlines, school projects, child care complications, person health issues. Often a volunteer commitment is not of the highest priority, regardless of good intentions.

Rather than lament on this fact, design roles from the outset so that the work can continue.

  • Make work virtual – allow them to work on their own time and not at a set time and place
  • Design group roles – if one person needs to drop away for a bit, the rest of the group can continue
  • Provide autonomy for flex-time decisions – if a volunteer wants to still complete the work, but can only do it on a different day or a different week, allow for scheduling changes
However, if a volunteer is consistently unreliable, let them go for the sake of everyone’s energy. Give them a kind way out to start (eg “It seems like you have other priorities that are conflicting with your availability to contribute as a volunteer. Are you interested in stepping away for a while, and coming back when you have more freedom with your time?”) and be firmer if the pattern continues.