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Tips to involve youth in your organization
Most organizations and associations rely on volunteers to exist. If you find it hard to secure enough people to run your organization and operate events, consider adding youth to the team.
They will add some new energy, ideas, enthusiasm, and may even bring along a friend! Plus, you may learn from them too. Having grown up in the digital age they understand social media and how to communicate with the next generation.
Look for areas in your organization where youth could help. In addition to helping at events, consider seeking tech savvy teens for their advice and technical support on social media, posting on Facebook, helping with a newsletter or website, creating a video, or taking photos. Draw on their skills and offer interesting projects to engage them.
Some provinces require teens to complete a certain number of community service hours before they can graduate. Tap into this resource. Ask members if they have children, relatives or neighbours old enough to help out. Put the call out to youth – do posts on social media and send a volunteer job description to the local high school.
Make it fun
Students are taking time out of their busy schedules, so help to make it a memorable experience. Pair up teens to work together, or encourage them to bring a friend. It’s a great opportunity for them to meet other youth, socialize, network, and connect with people in the community. Another option is to team them up with a more experienced member to serve as a mentor.
It can be scary and intimidating for students to start something new, so offering training and a chance to meet others they will be volunteering with can help break the ice.
Youth focus group
If you want to attract the younger generation to events or to your association, ask these youth volunteers for some advice. Find out how your organization can better engage youth, how best to reach them and what interests them. They can also offer suggestions on different events and speakers. Students offer a unique perspective and can provide knowledge of different resources that could benefit your organization.
Show your appreciation!
If youth are volunteering during an event, offer them food and drinks during the day.
A thank you email or card after they have volunteered recognizes their time commitment and can be used in their portfolio. Constructive feedback helps too; let them know how their assistance impacts the bigger picture – so they can understand how the role they play helps the larger organization. If it fits into the budget, offer a small gift card as a token of thanks. Building these relations can pay off – when you send out the request in the future, they may be more inclined to accept!
- Provide a clear volunteer job description so they understand the expectations
- Post positions where youth will see them – on social media, youth and community centres
- Offer flexibility in timing – evenings and weekends are better times for students attending school
- Switch up positions so volunteers can learn different roles
- Provide an opportunity for students to learn and build skills they can put on a resume
- Volunteer Canada has some great resources on engaging youth volunteers.
- Charity Village has an article series outlining best practices for engaging youth as volunteers: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.