Kari Dunn Saratovsky on “Demystifying Millennials”: What Do Volunteer Coordinators Need to Know?

How to recruit millennial volunteers

Do you work with younger volunteers? Not sure what makes them tick? While there’s tons of research out there about the so-called “millennials” and their unique perspectives, little of it is easily digestible by volunteer coordinators who just want to cut to the chase.

And this is important, because together the so-called Millennials/Generation Y constitute a group that is almost as large as the Baby Boom generation — which is why they’re sometimes referred to as “The Echo Boom.”

Over at the Case Foundation, Kari Dunn Saratovsky just posted an article that neatly sums up a few key tips for needs assessment, opportunity design, and day to day management. Some of the suggestions include:

  • Provide experiences based on skills — The Millennial Generation seems to gravitate to skilled volunteering. Kari suggests this is because they recognize “that it’s not just one sector that will help solve our most challenging social problems, but rather a blending of sectors and structures that will create meaningful impact.” I’m not completely sold on this reasoning (it seems a little too thoughtful to me). Instead, it may also be that younger volunteers in a competitive world have been taught that valuable experiences are ones that should go into your CV or resume — just as skilled volunteering.
  • Show the impact — As Kari writes, “It’s no secret that Millennials expect to see immediate results… Even if the progress is only incremental, make sure that you are sharing it with your volunteers.”
  • When it comes to recruitment, make the call to action clear — Younger people are savvier when it comes to using tech to find your opportunities. Once they find them, you need to make sure they have a clear action for taking the next step.
  • Be open and transparent — Young people love to work in groups, they need lots of background information to be more comfortable, and they crave feedback on their work. All of this points to the need to create a culture of openness and sharing. Yes, this means working harder to keep younger volunteers in the loop and making sure you’re getting back to them quickly, but the payoff is a much deeper engagement.

You can read the whole article here.

One thing that’s clear from these tips is how much Millennials have in common with older adults, particularly the Boomer set. Study after study has found that Boomers want to use their skills, they crave awareness about the impact of their work, and they want to be involved transparently in operations. All this points to the potential of smart volunteer coordinators to create roles that put Boomers together with Millennials on shared projects.

Is your organization engaging Millennial volunteers? Share what works with us.

(Photo: A volunteer on a Habitat for Humanity Global Village mission in the Dominican Republic. Dave Bezaire/Habitat for Humanity)