It is said that youth is wasted on the young, but it could be that, in the nonprofit sector, opportunities to harness the vigor of youth are being wasted.
Getting children involved in nonprofit activities can be tricky. They do bring energy with them, but strict monitoring of their actions and of the actions of the adults in charge of them can be extremely burdensome.
Susan J. Ellis, president of Energize, a Philadelphia, Pa.-based training, publishing and consulting firm specializing in volunteerism, says that utilization of children can be a challenge but that nonprofits can actually gain something from young people. Here are some examples:
- Social media usage. Face it, children these days can usually tell adults more about interactive sites than other adults can. Children can actively offer advice or provide it unconsciously by being watched as they use it.
- Energy. Events or projects that need eager help always feel more upbeat when children are involved. It is also a good idea to talk with a young volunteer at some point during or after an event to learn their perspective and discover if they want to do other things for the organization.
- Current jargon. Young volunteers can be interpreters to a new vocabulary, which often pops up over night. This can help in communicating with young clients.