Many school districts focus on attracting volunteers from older generations, presumably because these individuals are usually retired. However, dismissing younger generations as potential volunteers may mean missed opportunities to increase your volunteer pool. While volunteering may be a check-in-the-box for younger generations, it allows younger generations to immerse themselves and gain firsthand experience from otherwise unavailable opportunities.
Becoming a Valued Member of Society
Students, or young volunteers, learn through experience and need the opportunity to develop life skills to mold them into contributing members of society. With multiple volunteer opportunities available within school districts, students can develop and polish essential skills for the workplace. Volunteer opportunities will allow students to experience opportunities that will get them out of their comfort zone. For example, creating a big sister/brother club will allow older students to connect with younger students, where they can develop leadership skills as they generations and help them navigate personal issues
College Bound – Starting Early
As college becomes the norm for younger generations, competition increases in desirable and highly sought after campuses. Unable to sustain significant increases in student enrollment, colleges are constantly looking for a past experience to set a student apart from the rest. In “What Types of Volunteer Work Do Colleges Look For?,” Volunteers of America states, “Working two hours a week for several years on a cause that’s meaningful to you matters a lot more to colleges than 300 service hours during a trip that was likely paid for by the parents.” Spending the summer between Sophomore and Junior high school volunteering is no longer sufficient. Colleges want to see students have a passion and can commit to a cause. By affording students opportunities early in their educational journey, they can work to build a strong resume for the future, while also improving themselves and others. Whether it is tutoring, mentoring, or helping to coordinate events at school, these are all life skills that can be linked to future goals.
These are just a few of the benefits volunteering can provide students, but how do you motivate students to participate? Building a solid volunteer program is essential for school districts as budgets continue to be cut. Here are a few suggestions to motivate the younger generation to volunteer in your program:
- Create value in the opportunity.
- It may be as simple as stating some of the above-mentioned benefits to bring value to the opportunity. Also, bringing the focus to the betterment of society, the student, and the importance of the contribution they will be making.
- Communicate often.
- Communication will be key to keeping students engaged in opportunities. Social media will be a critical tool for connecting with younger generations and sharing opportunities.
- Acknowledge students for their work.
- While volunteering is an act of kindness, acknowledging the hard work students put in will keep them coming back for more. Whether through award ceremonies or letter of recommendation for college, acknowledging a student’s contribution will instill a sense of pride in the work they are completing.
- Make the opportunity fun to attend.
- Students may be reluctant to volunteer because they envision volunteering as boring and time-consuming. Integrating fun activities, such as games and competitions, will not only make the opportunity more interesting but also help students build relationships with their younger peers.
Tapping into the younger generation for volunteers helps school districts build their volunteer pool and younger generations develop critical personal skills for the future.