It seems appropriate to write about volunteerism during National Volunteer Week, doesn’t it?
One of the big lessons learned in #whatgiveswednesday so far is: involve young people in your cause. As Sheena Greer told us, “We are going to give our time first and our money second.”
Does that mean that millennials are rushing to volunteer for us and soon after giving us money? No! So, how do you get them to give their time?
Here are five ideas I came up with:
- Find your young champions. Chances are you’ve got at least one young person involved with your organization. Take her out for coffee. Ask her why she cares. Ask her what involvement gets her most excited about your org. Ask her if she can bring some friends the next time she’s volunteering!
- Create a young council / board / focus group / whatever. Sarah Kathryn Coley created a GOLD (Grads Of the Last Decade) Council at the university where she works. Sarah Kathryn says, “These volunteers are eager to help with peer-to-peer solicitations and educating young grads on how to get involved in the life of the university.” Like Carolyn Hawthorn told us, millennials don’t want to hear from your organization, they want to hear from their friends.
- Have volunteer opportunities. Before you try to get any young people on board with your organization, are there opportunities to be involved? Can they plan an event or do some meaningful work for you? If so, you better…
- Make volunteering fun! Sheena told us that volunteer experiences should be moving, fun, and highly social. I’m a big fan of Students Offering Support (not just because it was founded by a Laurier grad). SOS has chapters at different universities and students pay a nominal fee to participate in an “Exam-AID” group review session, getting support from senior students (volunteers) in advance of their exams. The money raised is spent creating sustainable education projects in developing nations. Everyone wins! You connect with peers, benefit from the experience yourself, and impact others. Wouldn’t you want to be involved in that? (And make sure there’s a hashtag. Everyone loves hashtags!)
- Hold an event. It sounds cliché, but it works. The Canadian Opera Company has Operanation and the Royal Ontario Museum has Friday Night Live. In both cases, young people buy tickets to go to a fun party (with hashtags!) that make people think, “This organization is cool!” These are big events by big organizations, but you can replicate this coolness (because seriously, cool matters) for your organization! I worked at a small independent school before Laurier, and we used to hold young alumni pub nights. Wings, nachos, and a free drink ticket goes a long way! I used to make a lot of friends among the young alumni when I was the one with the drink tickets. Building those relationships had huge value, and I saw the money come in from those engaged young alumni later. It works!
What awesome ways have you involved young people in your organization? Share in the comments.
Written by Maeve Strathy
Maeve is the Founder of What Gives Philanthropy and has been working in educational fundraising for the past eight years. Click here to learn more about Maeve.