We are a nonprofit, and with this label come certain challenges. Before we get too deep, let us recognize that these challenges are met with the understanding that what we are doing has dramatic payoffs in community, environmental impact and karma. Never the less, we absolutely know what it is like to operate on a small budget and still garnish the attention of quality people that are interested in making a difference, with the payoff being cut-in-line privileges at the Pearly Gates.
One of the very most refreshing trends happening over the last year of two has been the surge of willing Millennials. This demographic has a natural sense of community and civic duty and represent the largest piece of the pie on the philanthropic chart. Todays young adults have seen their parents reinvent themselves and grow from self-building, they have grown up around churches and organizations like Boy Scouts with a heavy “give back” message and their thirst to be thoroughly informed on current events is never-quenching which keeps them in the front lines of volunteering.
In the beginning we here at TCI relied heavily on our own grammar school aged kids to do much of the busy work. Sorting crayons, boxing, applying labels, etc. And guess what-they are still our cornerstone, but have brought a slew of talents that have grown up in our garages. They bring friends to get involved, use their technical savvy to create info videos and speak about what we do with a natural sense of ownership to those curious about us. Point being, the future looks bright for the younger generation following in the Millennial footprints.
If you are a nonprofit and need volunteers to help the cogs in the machine turning, here are some tips to make the journey successful for you.
Take out an ad in community newsletters or websites. Give specific examples of the work you are doing and the time commitments needed, as well as paint the picture of the projected growth of your company. People love to volunteer but are even more drawn to the possibility of being involved with something from the ground floor. This could turn out to be the best internship there ever was.
It is reported that the number one reason that people don’t volunteer is because nobody asked for their help. Bearing that in mind, use verbiage in your ad like “can you help us do _____” or “we are sorting crayons this Sunday and could really use your help for two hours”. Be specific.
In written form, either in the body of an ad, or at least when a volunteer makes initial contact, the very first thing you should do is communicate the list of exactly what is expected. Having this list in print form for them to keep is also very helpful. Too often, volunteers sign up for one thing and get roped into doing something completely different. The water cooler talk has created gun shyness among would-be volunteers. People want to know what they are signing up for and then get exactly that.
Praise and Educate
Explain in depth the exact impact that they volunteers work is going to have on the overall success of the company or campaign. Make sure that your volunteer knows exactly what you do, big-picture, and how you see the future based on the work that is being done today. The analogy is to show the concrete mixer responsible for pouring the foundation of the house a picture of the projected finished product. Everybody likes to work with vision and goal in the forefront of their imagination.
If you are an organization that needs volunteers and are lucky enough to get some, you need to realize that these are remarkable human beings that want to trade their time and energy for the greater good. They should feel invested in the project that you have laid out and feel wonderfully fulfilled when their heads hit the pillow. Never lose site of the fact that these very people are the exact type you may want running the organization one day.