Offer students a rewarding experience

It’s the familiar age-old question – How do we get more youth involved in our programs?

Unless we have a staff member designated to manage and recruit volunteers, we probably do not devote the necessary time to volunteer recruitment. We dream of engaging more youth to help revitalize our organization, but what are we doing to make it happen?

The high school curricula in some Canadian provinces give this mission a boost by offering students the opportunity to earn credits with volunteer work. The program differs slightly by province, but the goal is the same: getting our youth out into the community to volunteer their time, their skills and expertise for a worthy cause.

What’s in it for the students? For some it’s an opportunity to gain recognition for the volunteer work in which they already engage and the high school credits are a bonus. For others, it provides the motivation to volunteer. It’s that extra push to find volunteer opportunities and this quest makes many give thought to what truly makes them tick. In the best cases, many find more than simply a place to fulfill their required hours. They find an organization that promotes a cause to which they can relate and in which they can find satisfaction in the work they do.

It’s easy to find tasks for students to fulfill, although the easy ones are also usually the menial and mundane. Photocopying comes to mind. We have a limited opportunity with any given student to promote our organization. How do we do this? We need to present them with opportunities to:

  • challenge their minds;
  • inspire their creativity;
  • develop and learn new skills;
  • enhance their resume;
  • network.

Be proactive. Don’t wait for a student to come knocking on your door asking for work. Create the position and promote the benefits. Depending on your target market or geographical limitations, there are web sites on which you can share your opportunities, volunteer centres in your area or simply contact your local schools. By taking the initiative to reach out, you can offer students a rewarding experience.

Make it a priority. Put it on the agenda of your next planning meeting. National Volunteer Week in Canada kicks off on April 15. ChangeTheWorld: Ontarion Youth Volunteer Challenge, a campaign to get high-school students to volunteer in their community, runs from April 15 – May 6. Join the celebration and enrich a student!

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