Nonprofit: Tapping high schools and universities for volunteers
High schools and universities are great places to turn if your nonprofit needs a helping hand. Educational institutions are brimming with young people eager to get out and make a difference. Over the years, their volunteer numbers have only grown and they are fast proving to be a generation of volunteers that mean business.Consider this: In 2010, 58 percent of this age group, known as Millennials, volunteered a collective total of 341.1 million hours in Canada. This volunteer rate is significantly above the national average of 47 percent. As the leader of a nonprofit, make Millennials the target audience of your next volunteer campaign.

Impress them online
Think of innovative ways to reach out to them. High school and university-age volunteers are especially apt when it comes to all things Web-related. To that end, create an interactive website with engaging content, photos and videos. Sign up on social media platforms like Facebook® and Twitter®, too.

Then, once you’ve established your organization online, communicate your Twitter handle or Facebook group name on your website. Likewise, you can use those social platforms to share Web content. That way you’ll have well-rounded communication with your community and young people about your ongoing need for volunteers, upcoming volunteer opportunities and orientations for newcomers.

Make a first impression
Seek opportunities to appear in front of young people at their high school or university. Personal meetings go a long way in terms of generating awareness for your cause. Taking the time to personally appear and reach out to young volunteers in your area is a chance to have a personal dialogue about your organization and how they can help.

Here are some examples of innovative new ways to talk about the growth that comes with volunteering in your nonprofit:

  • Talk sincerely, but do so by realizing that volunteers do what they do for personal reasons.
  • Whether you’re appealing to high school freshman or university seniors, convey that your organization is a vehicle for continued personal growth.
  • Then, follow with the mission and vision of your organization versus specific tasks. That way you’ll really be able to connect with their idealism.

At your personal meeting, let them know that they can always find out more online. Tell them you’re excited to have new (or renewed) presence on the Internet, then remind them to take a look with items that have your Web address and contact information printed front and centre.

  • Send them away with a practical carabiner or appeal to their more creative side with an Etch-a-Sketch® key chain.
  • Invest in some technological gadgetry like USB drives so that any time they need to save something important they are reminded of your organization.
  • Remind them to do everything with a purpose, even when it comes to writing! Hand out bright pens with your organization’s information inscribed on them.
  • Encourage them to be star volunteers with a star stress reliever for those nights when the deadlines get too close for comfort.

Don’t forget to encourage them to “like” your organization on Facebook or begin to “follow” you on Twitter for more up-to-date announcements regarding volunteer opportunities. Lastly, let them know that other prizes—like an all-purpose tote—await for providing contact information and registering to attend a volunteer orientation.

Then, leave a lasting impression
Lastly, appeal to their logical side: There’s only so much school work, studying and writing they can do at once. Remind them that there are practical experiences and a chance to meaningfully make a difference right now. Portray their role as a volunteer as a leadership experience with chances to grow, earn more responsibility, and be recognized. Young people eager to make a difference will latch onto this idea and likely follow-up with you for more information.

Volunteers are indispensable to the work of your nonprofit organization. Take the time to reach out to and invest in this youthful “Millennial” generation. By identifying with them now, you may be able to make them committed volunteers for the long haul.

Caring Canadians, Involved Canadians:.” Tables Report. Statistics Canada., 21 Mar. 2012. Web. 3 Aug. 2012.

The Key to Recruiting Volunteers.” Leadership Freak. WordPress, n.d. Web. 13 July 2012.

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