As shelter-in-place rules are relaxed and volunteers start coming in, our nonprofits are faced with the question of how to keep volunteers safe. To help that process, we’ve introduced a new Zero Touch volunteer check-in process in V4S Mobile.
Join us for a webinar onThursday September 17th at 11 AM PT / 2 PM ETto see how you can “Bring Back Volunteers Safely!”. We look forward to seeing you there. Click here toregister for the webinar.
Have you ever tried to recruit college student volunteers? Are you ready to reach out to a local university? Engage a new group of student volunteers using these volunteer recruitment tips. Enjoy the buzz and the fresh energy that these young students bring to your non-profit.
College students make great volunteers. If they believe in your cause, their enthusiasm and spirit can bring new meaning and urgency to your cause and mission. Their class schedules are often flexible, which means you may have volunteers to work your hard-to-fill slots. And with tech-savvy college students, you’ll be able to fire up your social media and web-related work.
So what factors do you need to consider and how do you go about recruiting college volunteers?
Think of volunteer transportation
Many college students do not have their own transportation. So you may need to find ways to provide transportation. Perhaps you could team up with an organization that can provide transport. Or if you are close to public transportation, then that would work. The key is that it doesn’t make sense to get college student volunteers, if they can’t get to you.
How to find college student volunteers
Find students at Job Fairs
There’s always students at Job Fairs. College students are looking for internships and jobs after graduation. Job Fairs are a great place for them to find and network with future employers. Sign up for a small booth at local job fairs. You’re guaranteed to meet loads of students looking for jobs. Reach out to them, remind them that volunteering looks great on their resumes. You don’t want that to be the only reason why they choose to work with you, though. 🙂 Make sure that you have a signup sheet where interested volunteers give you their email IDs and phone numbers. Give out a small give away such as pen or pencil with your organization’s name on it.
Talk to Professors about your needs
Professors often have a very good idea of their student’s skills and needs. If you are looking for a volunteers for a fund raising Marathon, talk to a Professor in the Sports Management Department and find out how to recruit volunteers. They may have physical and electronic notice boards where they can post your requirement. Or they may be willing to send out an email to all the students in the department on your behalf. You may get lucky and have professors and other faculty volunteering too.
Use the Fraternity/Sorority system
Sororities and Fraternities often look for local charities to partner with on social projects. Most sorority/fraternity websites will give you details of past projects that they’ve worked on. Find sororities/fraternities that have worked on projects similar to yours and get in touch with them. Sororities/fraternities can find you large numbers of volunteers. So if you have a high demand event, like a Marathon, this is a great source of college student volunteers.
Speak to Hobby Groups
Universities are filled with special interest groups and clubs. Whether they are programmers, culinary enthusiasts, or love to read, most groups love getting their name out in the community. Most clubs and groups are listed on the university website. Reach out to them to find volunteers specific to your projects.
Talk to Church Groups
Religion-based groups are always looking for ways to give back to the community. One simple way to recruit college student volunteers is to speak at informal church gatherings. Explain your volunteer requirements and why they should sign up. Make sure that you collect email IDs and phone numbers.
Whichever way (s) you use to find your volunteers, make sure that you get in touch with them within a week of contact. Students have multiple demands on their time and short attention spans. So you want to get them when you still have top of the mind recall.
Tap directly into what motivates students
Students are busy people, but they do indeed have time to volunteer. So think of the reasons why students volunteer. Here are a couple of easy ones – a) to gain work experience b) to have fun with their friends. So find opportunities that help students gain skills directly related to their field of study. Communicate clearly what they can hope to gain (what they can put on their resume, who they will meet and be able to network with…). If there’s a way to give credit for the volunteer hours and service, make sure that happens.
Use your web pages and social media handles to share photos and videos about volunteering opportunities and the achievements of your student volunteers. Post before and after pictures, interviews with the volunteers. Use your tech-savvy college volunteers to set up a You Tube channel, an Instagram account, a Facebook page and any other social media accounts that you want. Partner with the college radio station or newspaper to pump up your social media community.
Most people like free stuff, especially young people. Give away t-shirts for example, when your volunteers complete a certain number of hours. If you don’t have the budget for it, get local businesses that appeal to the student demographic to sponsor your shirts. To widen the appeal, hold a student t-shirt design contest and use the winning design for your non-profit’s signature shirt. Get a “cool” t-shirt and it can help brand your volunteer program.
Give volunteers easy ways to sign up
Young people are busy with a million things. Give them easy ways to know when you have opportunities for them to volunteer with you. If you useVolunteers for Salesforce, you can post your Jobs and Shifts calendar on your website and allow volunteers to sign up there. With theV4S Personal, you can be on your college student’s mobile device where they are always on. You can let your student volunteers’ sign up for Jobs and Shifts directly on their mobile phones.
Volunteering is a great option for college students because it costs them only a few hours of their time. It also gives them the time to bond with other students and make lasting friendships. Use these tips to draw and engage bright, smart college student volunteers for your organization.
Last week, I watched my 12th-grade son manage a pretty large initiative to feed 5000 under-privileged kids a special meal. He got a quick-service-restaurant on board to provide the meals with a great discount, he raised the money for the effort, all fairly easily. But where he really seemed to have trouble was to get enough other kids to work with him on the effort. He pulled it off, but since then I did some research and reading on engaging young volunteers. And it looks like there are some answers for him and for others looking to engage with young volunteers.
Appeal to the social leader. Young people enjoy participating in volunteer activities with their friends. According to theDosomething.org Index on Young People and Volunteering, an astounding 75.9% of those whose friends volunteer on a regular basis, also volunteer. If key influencers are convinced about your cause, they automatically bring in other friends in. Allow this peer-camaraderie to develop naturally.
Appeal on their terms. Young people are born tech-savvy. While they are on their phones all the time, very few young people actually make calls or check their emails on their phones. They also intuitively do their own stuff on mobile apps all the time. So you definitely need to let young people set their volunteering schedules and preferences on their own through a mobile app. Give them ways to share status updates and pictures on their favorite social media. Not only does this bring more awareness of your cause, you will definitely have more young volunteers from their social circles.
Involve them in the issues that they care about. From that same Dosomething.org Index, the top 3 issues that teens care about are Animal Welfare, Hunger and Homelessness. While the percentages for each of these vary across regions, overall these are main issues. If your volunteer opportunities are in these areas, you’ll definitely see a lot of interest from younger volunteers.
Use young people as fundraisers. Overall, fundraising is the top way that most young people volunteer. 38.5% of young people who volunteer have fundraised for charities. Can you think of anything more potent than a passionate teen asking an adult for a donation for a good cause? Believe me, it’ll work much better than that cold call or the flyer that you were thinking of. Young people can be the best ambassadors of your cause.
Lighten up the rules. Young people work differently. Bend your rules slightly to deal with the way that they work. They may come in late, leave early and seem remote. Give them work that they could thrive at. They’re naturally tech savvy. So anything to do with tech, music, sports, working with younger kids, they’ll love. Young people complain that they get jobs that no one else wants to do. Give your young volunteers jobs that give them responsibility and a sense of achievement. Give them things that they can do as a group and you’ll never be short of helping hands.
Find different incentives. The single largest concern for most young people is college. If possible, offer them volunteer opportunities that help with college admissions. If you want to give them incentives, make that something that works for admissions too. T-shirts (though always welcome) may not be the best incentive. Find out what the latest little gadget that kids seem to be hankering for. See if you can make that the gift for your volunteers.
By better understanding how to engage and retain young volunteers, you are laying the foundation for the next generation of your long-term volunteers.
You are all set for your big summer event. You’ve spent hours training your volunteers getting them up-to-speed, you’ve assigned them to shifts optimally based on their choices, you’ve even sent out email reminders to make sure that your volunteers know when and where they need to be. Your big day turns around and some of your volunteers haven’t showed up. Sound familiar?
So how do you the Volunteer Manager pick up the pieces? Here are some strategies to help you cope.
Build a buffer with Floater staff. No-shows happen despite all your efforts.
Better to buckle down and be ready for it. So you are going to need some extra bodies. Build a 10 – 15% buffer of additional volunteers into your schedule. There’s always extra work at events. So even if you have fewer no-shows, you can put your extra volunteers to good use. Monitoring deliveries and vendors, crowd control, clean-up crew – all good last minute duties for additional volunteers.
Train volunteers and show them the importance of their job. Train volunteers properly and know that they are doing. They are more likely to stay engaged with your organization. Ensure that volunteers understand the importance of their job and how it affects the organization. Share stats of how much volunteer time means to the organization in dollar terms.
Recognize your volunteers. Track volunteer engagement with your organization diligently. Make sure that your star volunteers are recognized. Use simple software to keep track of the hours that your volunteers spend with you. This is undoubtedly the best way to keep your volunteers coming back and working assigned shifts. You don’t need to give out big gifts. Just a simple thank you note from your Executive Director or coupons to a coffee shop should be sufficient.
Make it easy for volunteers to communicate with you. Give your volunteers as many ways as possible to communicate with you. Phone calls / emails / text. Use volunteer management software that allows volunteers to Cancel / Reschedule their shifts online or on their mobiles. If it’s easy for a volunteer to Cancel on their mobile or online, they will. If they need to call someone to Cancel, they may not.
Monitor check-ins.You need to be tracking who’s on site. The best way is to use technology where your volunteers can check themselves in, when they arrive. If you are using paper lists, make sure that your volunteers report to a central location where they can be checked in. That way, you can quickly scan the list and know who’s there. If it’s a large event with multi-locational check-ins, keep in touch with your supervisors to know if there are no-shows. Send your floater volunteers to however needs them the most.
The bottom-line is that paper lists and spreadsheets don’t allow for flexibility and adaptability. Use good volunteer management technology to help you adapt to situations quickly and seamlessly.