Guest post by Dante Munnis
Today’s college students are some of the most socially aware and concerned members of the population. If they believe in a cause, many are perfectly happy to donate their time. Your job — as a leader of volunteers — is to get them interested, and then keep them engaged.
Here are five ways you can do just that.
- Give Them an Incentive
One sure way to get students on board with a volunteer opportunity is to simply provide them with an incentive. The amount of incentive you choose to offer up should depend on the duration and intensity of the work you are asking the students to commit to.
Do you need students to answer phones for a few hours during a telethon? In that case, pizza and soda will likely be all you need to attract enthusiastic volunteers for a night. On the other hand, if you need students to volunteer at an outdoor, cultural festival on a hot day for several hours, you might want to offer up a bit more. Freebies such as free passes to the remainder of the event, t-shirts, or entries into a raffle are very attractive to students.
- Involve Them in Planning
Volunteering is not much fun if all you do is show up and do what you are told. Get students to grasp the importance of the work that they will be doing by involving them in planning and organizing volunteer events. Give them the reins to plan fundraising events. Let them assign roles, contact vendors, and think of ways to get the word out. If possible, give them the choice of selecting which organizations will benefit.
For community volunteer opportunities, solicit students’ opinions. Give them leadership roles. Involve them in planning and organizational meetings. After the event has ended, solicit their thoughts on how things played out. All of this will ensure that students feel a sense of ownership.
- Be Organized
If you want students to volunteer for your cause once, touch them with the stories of the people who they will be helping. If you want them to become regular volunteers with a vested interest in helping your cause, stay organized and on top of things. It is difficult to motivate students to come back to a volunteer experience when poor organization results in wasted time, missing supplies, and confusion over roles.
Be sure students know what they will be doing, where they should check in, and who to go to with questions or concerns. Ensure members of your organization are on time, and that they are equipped to handle student volunteers. To keep things squared away, try setting up a bulletin board for assignments and schedules.
- Use Social Media
Social media should be a huge part of your efforts to engage student volunteers. Create and promote events and volunteer opportunities on Facebook and Twitter. Use social media to communicate information about events as they unfold, and to keep volunteers interested. During volunteer events, take lots of pictures, and videos. Tag volunteers. Livestream interviews with student volunteers, etc.
- Present Them with Opportunities That Match Their Values
Get to know the student population that you are targeting before you approach them with your volunteer opportunity. You will get more enthusiastic participation if the students involved really feel as if they can get behind what you are trying to accomplish. Some of this is common sense. If you need volunteers to run an art class at a community center, you would probably want to connect with some fine arts majors. In other cases, things can get a little stickier. For example, if your cause is strongly associated with a specific political party, you might want to be careful when determining which students to recruit.
Treat them right, give them small incentives, engage them on social media, and you should have no trouble getting student volunteers to help your organization. You may even find that students become some of your most passionate advocates.
Get started today by posting a volunteer opportunity on VolunteerMatch.
Author Bio: Dante Munnis is a passionate blogger on trustmypaper.com and idea-maker from Stockholm, Sweden who is interested in self-development, web-related topics, and success empowerment. Get in touch with Dante on Twitter!