Attracting young volunteers is becoming more and more of a challenge for charitable organisations worldwide, yet studies have shown that young people today are more socially minded than ever.
So where does the problem lie?
A recent article published in Forbes stated that “73% of millennials are willing to spend more on a product if it comes from a sustainable brand, and 81% expect companies to commit publicly to good corporate citizenship”.
However, at the same time, the latest Community Life Survey showed that people aged 25-34 years old are the least likely to formally volunteer with only 15% volunteering on a regular basis, and those aged 16-24 are only slightly more engaged with 24% of them volunteering once a month.
There is a clear disconnect between the desire to ‘do good’ among young people, and the number of people acting on this desire through regular volunteering.
What’s in it for them?
It is important to remember that volunteering should be viewed as an exchange: charities gain the help and expertise of people, in exchange for providing opportunities for the volunteers to develop skills and fulfil their desire to make a positive impact.
There are a number of charities who manage to achieve this balance and successfully attract hundreds of young volunteers every year. Looking at these charities alongside each other, the secret of their success becomes quite clear.
How do other charities do it?
Let’s take Project Scotland, as an example, to reveal some of these secrets:
1. A bright and engaging website
Project Scotland’s website is full of bright colours and attention-grabbing images. Clearly laid out and very easy to navigate, it takes only two mouse clicks to direct you from the home page to an application form and an area of the site full of information about how to become a volunteer.
2. Strong social media presence
Likewise, Project Scotland’s social media accounts are all consistent with their website and with each other.
Their Instagram account, in particular, is filled with strong, impactful imagery and informative, to-the-point captions. This is especially important when trying to attract young volunteers, as social media has proven to be an invaluable resource for publicists marketing towards young people.
In fact, online adults aged 18-34 are most likely to follow a brand via social networking rather than any other platform. (Source: 21 Social Media Marketing Statistics You Need to Know in 2019)
3. Opportunities for growth
One of the top secrets to Project Scotland’s success in attracting young volunteers has been the way they promote how a volunteering role might help you gain new skills and qualifications.
They run regular workshops to help create a community of like-minded, young volunteers and to support employability skills and professional advice.
They also offer a Certificate of Work Readiness qualification in partnership with Skills Development Scotland. This allows them to compliment the skills and training they have achieved through their volunteering placement with a recognised qualification to add to their CV.
Another charity that does well to attract young volunteers, Amnesty International, makes it clear on their website that volunteering with them will give volunteers opportunities to ‘loan [their] own specialist expertise’ and involves a level of skill and responsibility that will allow for personal growth.
4. Genuinely desirable volunteering roles
Project Scotland think out of the box when it comes to volunteering opportunities. They do not limit roles to low-skilled work or traditional volunteering positions.
According to their website:
‘You can write articles, feed ponies, plant trees and drive vans. You can dig holes, hold hands and hold events. You can tweet and meet and greet. We have a wide range of volunteering opportunities available at any one time. As a result, we can match your skills to charities working in areas like, the arts, sports, youth work or animal care. Or, to the bits of charities that do things like marketing, human resources, fundraising and events.’
These roles are interesting, varied, and allow young people to lend their skills or gain experience in a new area. These are more likely to appeal to young people looking to progress professionally and personally than more traditional roles.
How do you get started?
In summary, despite the decline in young volunteers in recent years, this does not necessarily mean a lack of interest.
Charities hoping to attract young people should:
- focus on clear communication online and on social media,
- think about providing a genuinely desirable and meaningful volunteering opportunities and
- consider what they, in turn, can give their volunteers in terms of growth and progression.
Think about your own charity organisation, what can you do to attract young volunteers? Get in touch if you would like to find out more about employer supported volunteering and how we can support your charity to easily access skilled volunteers!