Why Involve Family Volunteers?

Guest post by Heather Jack, The Volunteer Family

Family VolunteeringThe 21st century has been especially challenging for nonprofit and philanthropic organizations. Funding is tight, and many agencies seem to be constantly understaffed and overstressed. The Volunteer Family was formed to address this need for additional help. Our goal is to strengthen the familial bonds of our community while helping local agencies like yours achieve your objectives.

Helping Your Organization Become Family-Volunteer Friendly

The idea of families volunteering at your organization may be appealing in theory, but maybe you’re having a hard time figuring out how families can help your organization specifically. The following questions and ideas have been designed to assist you as you volunteer with families:

  • Think about the needs of your organization and the people you serve. Which of your current programs involve activities that families (including children of different ages) could help with? Perhaps you require highly trained staff. Are there other types of things family volunteers could do to help?
  • When families contact you about volunteering, learn what their strengths, interests and talents are. What activities or events could you have in the future that would accommodate family volunteers and utilize their strengths, creativity, and enthusiasm?
  • If the opportunities working directly with the people that you serve are not very feasible for families to assist with, could they help indirectly? For example, could families make decorations or assist in other ways for special events? Could families make lunches for people in need? Or could they make other types of food? Could they help collect specific items on a wish list? Would the people you serve benefit by having a whole family visit them instead of just one volunteer? Or could a family visit multiple people?
  • What are ways you could adapt your current programs to make them more family friendly?
  • Supervising family volunteers is similar, but slightly different, than supervising your regular volunteer population. If you need more advice on this, check out our best practices.
  • Think about times when families are more available to help out, including evenings, holidays or weekends. When do you schedule your programs and events? Are there opportunities outside of the regular Monday-Friday 9-5 work week? Are they held during times that allow families to be present?
  • If you want to test the waters on a family volunteering project, Family Volunteer Day (November 19, 2011 – the Saturday before Thanksgiving) is a great time to do this.

Sometimes working with family volunteers requires flexibility and a willingness to think a little outside the regular volunteer box. But when you do this, there can be many positive benefits for your organization.

How We Can Help You – For Free!

As noted on The Volunteer Family’s orientation page, when your organization implements a family volunteering initiative, you will enjoy immediate and direct benefits. This includes broadening your outreach to the community, expanding and diversifying your volunteer population, and growing future generations of volunteers and supporters. You will also expand your community image and relations and you might even find new ways of meeting your own organizational needs!

As you know, developing appealing assignments is the key to any successful volunteer effort. Your mission is uniquely important, and our primary goal is to help you achieve your objectives. You can check out our link about recruiting volunteers and then begin recruiting through VolunteerMatch.

By posting on the VolunteerMatch site, you can offer your opportunities to the unique audience of families. When you post your opportunity on VolunteerMatch, it is also seen by the 20,000 dedicated families who use The Volunteer Family site to volunteer as a family.

By involving family volunteers in your agency, you are providing opportunities for children to become involved in volunteering at an early age, which often translates to them volunteering throughout their lives. You can show the impact they have had on your organization by discussing the contributions made by your family volunteers and how such progress would not have been possible without their help.

Through the involvement of active, engaged families, you and your organization will benefit more than you ever thought possible.

Heather Jack is passionate about helping kids give back to their communities.  She is the Founder and Executive Director of The Volunteer Family, a nonprofit which helps families, especially families with children, find places where they can volunteer together.  She also manages the Future Philanthropists program, which teaches youth to collectively decide where to donate up to $20,000 in funding to local charities.