8 ideas for keeping youth involved

July 1, 2013       The NonProfit Times      

Even if young people can be drawn toward participation in nonprofit organizations, there is no guarantee that they will stay. Youth can be fickle, and with all the alternatives available today, competing for their interest/energy/dollars is no easy task.

During the 14th annual Symposium for Nonprofit Professionals and Volunteers at the Axelson Center for Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago, Mary Morten of the Morten Group suggested the following ideas for maintaining youth involvement:

  • There must be support for getting more young people involved with any organization and for getting them involved with leadership.
  • Like any volunteers, young people need to be confident that their contribution is more than a token one.
  • Assess programs regularly and be sure to seek feedback from younger members, volunteers and leaders.
  • Ensure that younger people are represented throughout the organization and that there are opportunities for them to grow within the organization.
  • Provide training or mentoring for younger people to keep improving their skills and to show they are valued.
  • Ensure that younger people are afforded the same respect as others. Don’t talk “at” or “down” to younger people.
  • Make young people aware of how their help is contributing to the organization.
  • Ensure there is open communication, that young people have access to decision-makers and that there is a process for their suggestions to be heard.