Magnets For Young Volunteers Author: Kerrie S (Not Set)
As the Manager of a Volunteer Resource Centre my job is to resource and support volunteer involving organisations over a large region. A constant refrain I hear is, "Young people don't volunteer." My answer is always, "Yes they do - just not necessarily in the traditional ways."
During 2001 I was on an advisory committee with a young woman who said, "Don't expect the young people to be enthusiastic volunteers if they are treated without respect and are constantly told what to do, how to do it and when to do it, without having any input into the decision making processes within the organisation."
The question I would pose is how many of us are really brave enough to involve young volunteers in decision making within our organisation?
In many cases the reality is that older volunteers are not involved in decision making, so the young people are certainly not going to be. In most cases young people have had enough of being told what to do during their years at school - why would they return to that situation
in their leisure time? We keep hearing that young people are our future and the leaders of tomorrow; well why not start tomorrow early and let them do some leading now?
Each organisation could consider these issues:
• What is the average age of your committee/board members?
• Has anyone ever approached a young person to be on the committee/board?
• Have you analyzed the volunteer tasks to make them more attractive to young people?
• Have you considered breaking your volunteer tasks down in to small chunks that can be completed in a short time frame (thus giving opportunities for short term volunteering)?
• Have you considered the existing skills of your current team and then looked for skills gaps (i.e. web page development, brochure development) that could be appealing areas for young people?
• Have you looked for intergenerational opportunities for skill sharing amongst your volunteers (such as matching a technologically-challenged older person who has excellent organisational skills with a young person who has the technological skills - both individuals learn during the process!)
• Have you ever asked young people why they have never considered volunteering at your organisation?
It will take time and energy to make changes in your organisation, but if you don't the organisation may meet the same fate as the dodo. Instead of becoming extinct why not be inspired by the multitude of creatures that have managed to adapt to their ever changing
environment and found a niche for themselves? By listening to your volunteers and to their recommendations you can join the many other projects whose success lies in ensuring that each volunteer gets as much out of volunteering as they give.
By Kerrie Spinks.
Reprinted from Turn Your Organisation Into A Volunteer Magnet, 2nd edition (ed. Fryar, Jackson & Dyer) 2007
For the complete copy of Turn Your Organisation Into A Volunteer Magnet go to