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Attracting solid volunteers for sustained engagement takes time, patience and creativity. It also takes an understanding for what motivates each volunteer. In this Update, I'll zero in on how to attract and engage the sometimes elusive millennial (ages 20-35). They often have the time and dedication to really make a difference, yet as a group they volunteer at lower rates (23.2%) than those who are older.
Below are questions to ponder along with good resources to get you headed in the right direction. Contact me to learn how I can help your agency attract and better utilize millennials - along with other age groups - to raise funds, save money, and do more mission. View past Updates on the Volunteer Frontier website.
Volunteering in the United States, 2012, the yearly survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics came out in February. It provides a goldmine of useful information about volunteering. The data show that most millennials volunteer for agencies that have directly asked them to serve or through a friend who's asked them to volunteer at "their" nonprofit. Social media activity from your millennial volunteers or followers presents a real opportunity to attract new young talent.
Millennial Mini-Case Study
One of my clients is a vibrant nonprofit that provides low-cost language classes with volunteer instructors. The organization has also been quite successful in attracting professional millennials who take on significant volunteer leadership roles. The Executive Director says, "We offer volunteer positions with lots of responsibility, autonomy, and leadership opportunities - which is something many younger professionals want but don't get in their day jobs." These leader volunteers dedicate considerable time in such areas as marketing, events, fundraising, communications, quality assurance and more - and have impressive sounding titles and even business cards. Many of them have served with this nonprofit for numerous years because they serve as leaders who help call the shots and have ownership in areas they manage. The lesson for us? Attract millennials with meaningful service opportunities with which they can have a say and develop leadership skills.
Questions to Consider
What do millennials find appealing about your agency? What might turn them off? Answer: Like other age cohorts, millennials want to be valued and see that what they are doing is making a difference. They also have higher social needs than older folks - so think about team projects and other interactive activities - with a strategy of engaging them later with other opportunities.
Do you offer enough varied volunteer opportunities - from direct service to pro-bono to leadership positions? Answer: Not all millennials want to do direct service and few want clerical jobs. Many are into resume building and want to apply what they've learned in school or through their jobs.
How does your agency look to prospective 20-35 year olds? Is the website inviting? How are you using social media to attract volunteers? Answer: Millennials move through life fast and might view your website on their smart phone for 10 seconds. Providing major areas of volunteer need gives prospects a reason to contact you to find out more. Consider having potential volunteers complete a mini interest form that takes 2-3 minutes to complete. Stay away from posting position descriptions that look like they're from the HR Department.
The 2012 Millennial Impact Report, put out by the consulting firm Achieve shows how young professionals view nonprofits and how they currently are engaged. Find facts to help you understand how to better attract college educated professional millennials - who volunteer at higher rates than the general millennial population.
Contact me anytime should you have questions concerning how to maximize your utilization of volunteers to save money, raise funds, and do more mission. Visit Volunteer Frontier, to find great resources and a full list of my services. Learn about the Volunteer Frontier approach to yield impressive returns for years to come. Lastly, visit my blog to get my take on trends and ideas in the field of volunteering.