How to get young people involved

How to Recruit Youth Volunteers

How do you recruit young people as volunteers? Youth have so much to offer in time, energy and ideas. They also have a lot of pressure to start developing their career early. Yet many service organizations and nonprofits struggle to connect with them. Whether you’re recruiting students in middle school, high-school, or young adults, here are four tips to get you started.

1. Communicate your mission effectively (yes on social media)

Take it from me, young people google everything. You don’t need to be on every social media platform, but it is important to have at least one social media account that reflects the mission statement and programs you have outlined on your website.

Posting photos and videos on social media can tell a more compelling story about the work you are doing and the people behind your cause, which will attract potential volunteers to you! You can also create an events calendar to let volunteers know when & where they are needed.

Crucial to this process is keeping the account updated! If someone comes across your page that hasn’t been updated in six months, they may assume you haven’t been doing much as an organization.

2. Clearly define what skills your volunteers will gain

The job market is really really competitive for young people these days. As much as they may want to support your cause, they also need to know it will be worth their time to volunteer instead of getting another job, internship or extracurricular activity.

If you already have clearly defined roles for volunteers, help them talk about the value of their experience on a resume. For example, if their job is to stock supplies at a food shelf, highlight how many people the food shelf serves each month.

Alternatively, you may need to adjust volunteer roles to create more tangible benefits. Do you use Microsoft Publisher, Canva or InDesign to create fliers? Have one of your young people learn the software & design a flier. Those basic technology skills can be important resume builders for people just entering the workforce.  

3. Offer opportunities for advancement

Whether you have paid employees or are purely a service organization, you can create levels of responsibility for volunteers.

Seeing peers in leadership roles gives young people someone to model after, and motivation to continue working with your organization. Promoting volunteers into those leadership positions is also a great way to acknowledge their work, and again gives them something tangible to put on their resume.


4. Partner with youth organizations

Peers are a huge motivator for young people! If you are looking for a large number of volunteers, consider reaching out to different after-school clubs, sports teams, college groups, etc. Youth organizations can help coordinate transportation of volunteers to your site, and add a social incentive for young people to get involved.