Guest post by Ginger Cannon
Young volunteers bring energy, fresh ideas and passion to any project. And due to increased awareness of social issues through media and Internet exposure, today’s children, adolescents and teens are more likely to volunteer their time and talents than those in the recent past.
Recruitment and involvement of youth is essential to the success of many volunteer programs. Many nonprofit managers implement a strategy to recruit young people through school or church programs and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
Looking Beyond the Obvious
While this plan is effective, the role of parents in youth volunteerism should not be overlooked. Parents are ultimately the decision-makers who allow children and teens to participate and devote their time and effort to any cause or program, and when they feel good about what their children are doing, parents can serve as a great source of inspiration and enthusiasm. Part of any youth recruitment strategy should be to appeal not only to young volunteers, but also to their parents.
Is Volunteerism an Easy Sell?
It’s hard to imagine why any parent wouldn’t want their children to volunteer. After all, the list of reasons to volunteer includes improved self-esteem, development of leadership and social skills, academic success and even better health.
Some parents may neglect to encourage volunteerism because they fear an intrusion on time set aside for their children’s other pursuits such as sports activities or music lessons. Others may be overprotective or fear that programs will not be adequately supervised or safe.
Tapping Parental Influence
Here are a few tips to help combat lukewarm reactions or skepticism from parents:
- Establish a presence online and in your local community. Name recognition inspires trust.
- When you have the opportunity to appeal to parents directly, sell the benefits of volunteerism. Many parents may not be aware of how it can positively impact their children’s lives; tell them.
- If your program involves organized activities, offer assurance that young volunteers will be safe and supervised at all times by qualified individuals. A great way to increase confidence is to invite parents or entire families to come along. Even if they do not participate, parents will feel better knowing that their presence is welcome.
- Be specific about time commitments and objectives. The level of a volunteer’s involvement should be outlined as clearly as possible.
- Be available. If parents have questions to ask before giving their children permission to volunteer, they should be able to reach program managers or leaders easily for clear and specific answers.
Harness Youth Power
Added to the many other elements of youth recruitment, the ability to get parents excited about their children’s potential involvement can increase your resources and help strengthen your youth-driven organization or project.
Find more great tips for attracting volunteers of all ages at the VolunteerMatch Learning Center.
Ginger Cannon is a freelance writer and volunteer musician with interests in social justice, community health and animal welfare. In her spare time, she enjoys composing, reading and spending time with her feline critics.
This post is provided by Save1.com, a family-owned online coupon and deal site whose mission is to fight child hunger. Learn more at Save1.com.