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4 ways to engage young volunteers

by The NonProfit Times - April 8, 2013

Peer pressure can be a good thing, when it comes to teen volunteers. The number one revealed motivation for volunteering among high school and college students was that their friends were doing it, according to New York City nonprofit’s data scientist Bob Filbin.

Stated and revealed motivations were one of the topics of study in a survey called “The Index on Young People and Volunteering 2012.”

“Volunteering, like everything else, is about blending in, making friends and having a good time,” said Filbin. Here are four things to keep in mind when recruiting young volunteers.

  • Make volunteering a social activity. If your organization’s activity can be done by a single volunteer or from home, it’s probably not a good fit for young volunteers.
  • Young volunteers need to see the impact. You’ll have a tough time getting them excited about installing energy-efficient light bulbs, but a park cleanup will draw them in droves.
  • Make sure the activity is close to where young people live and spend time. Transportation issues often prevent young people from volunteering.
  • One-off activities and those that allow for a variable time commitment are best for youth. Plan your volunteering like you would a party, said Filbin: “Teens often decide to go last minute, avoid showing up early, and almost never stay until the end.”


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