In todays world, there exist many volunteer organizations. These organizations usually share the common goal of alleviating certain problems facing society and providing a reprieve to those needing help such as the less fortunate, people who have been afflicted by natural disasters and so on. Most volunteers that are involved are adults and young people from international high school Canada and they only add up to a small percentage. There has been recently a call from these organizations to encourage teenagers mostly from high schools to be recruited, as this would create future sustainability in the voluntary sector. This is because most of the cohorts in this sector are retired or about to retire leaving gaps and voids that need to be filled.
Creating an excellent foundation for a long-term volunteer relationship requires teens involvement. This means that organizations must have incentives that attract the youth into volunteer programs like making the experience fun and rewarding. Other reasons why teens may consider engaging in voluntary programs, is when they view it as an opportunity to meet and socialize with different kinds of people hence making new friends.
Attracting and maintaining youth volunteers is never easy. You need to know their expectations and understand this age group. In Canada, youths are viewed as:
- Open-minded than previous generations
- Flexible and very dynamic to new ideas
- Energetic and ready to involve in active roles
- Technologically savvy
- They view volunteering as a bridge to get networking and may as well as find them a job along the way.
Bridging the gap between youth volunteering expectations and existing opportunities
Lack of youth volunteers could just be attributed to voluntary organization set-ups. The youth always complain of being disrespected when being assigned duties; they feel mistrusted as they are assigned simpler duties and they are not involved in strategic decision-making in the organizations. However, there are ways to help bridge this and encourage more youth to volunteer programs, like:
- Create an interactive document for youth to help them assess themselves before getting started with volunteering.
- Develop a youth community-based volunteer centers as this is able to come closer to the youth and create a robust youth engagement program.
- Engage the youth effectively
- Use social media platforms to reach out to the youth. Currently, most youths are into social media platforms. If you need to capture their attention, dont call for physical seminars and start to teach them. Most of them will get bored and opt out. Reach out to them through social media as almost all have social media accounts. Send educative materials through emails, call meetings through SMS broadcasting, creating WhatsApp groups to engage the youths in a discussion of matters arising. This makes them feel utilized and involved hence motivating them.
Planning for the next generation of volunteers
The youth are the easiest group to capture for volunteer work if handled well and motivated. As most of the volunteers are now aging, the voluntary sector is in a critical state, as there is a need for more. Encouraging teens could be the only effective solution as you will have a long-term voluntary relationship.
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