Archive for October, 2012

New Survey Offers Insights into Teens’ Volunteering Habits

Friday, October 26th, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkThink teens volunteer in their communities because it makes them feel good, or because it looks good on college applications? Or do you think teens sign up for volunteer tree-planting projects because they want to save the environment?

A new study by reveals some interesting insights into teens’ reasons for volunteering. Over 4,300 young people aged 13 – 22 were surveyed across the country, and here are some of the results:

  • 93% of teens say they want to volunteer, but a far smaller percentage actually do.
  • Teens’ volunteer habits are primarily influenced by having friends who volunteer regularly. Over 70% of teens with friends who volunteer also volunteer themselves.
  • Many teens (40%) don’t volunteer through traditional organizations, but rather through clubs, friends and family, or on their own.
  • Teens want volunteering to be fun, like a party. Make it social, and they will come.
  • What’s on teens’ minds? Number one is paying for college. Next is getting into a college.
  • The biggest reason teens don’t volunteer is lack of time.
  • Many teens want to be anonymous, or help from a distance. They also want to volunteer with people their age (but not necessarily the same gender).
  • Religious teens’ volunteer habits are not determined by the importance of religion in their lives, but by how often they attend religious events, including youth groups.
  • Young volunteers want opportunities that are close to home, but not at home.
  • Short activities that allow for different levels of engagement are preferred by teens.

It looks like the influence of their friends is most motivating when it comes to teens and volunteering. We’ll be sharing more insights from this interesting survey in coming weeks.

Make Volunteering a Family & Halloween Tradition

Friday, October 19th, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkSince Halloween is just around the corner, why not use the holiday as a way of introducing kids to volunteering?

Involve families with kids by creating a weekend family volunteer activity. When the place, time and task list are set and ready, it’s easier for parents to just show up and get their kids involved. And when parents are supervising their kids, it’s much easier on volunteer managers.

Halloween Volunteer Activities For Kids

  • How about cleaning up the neighborhood after trick-or-treating? It’s unfortunate that some Halloween traditions include smashing pumpkins, dropping candy wrappers on the ground or even acts of vandalism. Cleaning up the neighborhood can teach kids that we’re all responsible for a healthy, clean community. It’s also a big help for elderly folks who can’t pick up around their own properties. Equip kids with thick gloves and garbage bags. Emphasize safety and keep them out of the street.
  • Host a Halloween party for disadvantaged kids. This is a great way to involve young people in setting up, decorating, gathering goody bags and developing activities. And what better way to teach children to understand the difficulties that other people face? They’ll feel great about helping, and have fun, too.
  • Visit senior centers. Organize a trip for costumed kids to bring some cheer to elder care facilities. Of course, the rules have to be strict, and anyone with the sniffles shouldn’t be around the elderly. But there is nothing like a bunch of trick-or-treaters to brighten the faces of senior citizens.

When you combine families with kids, holidays and volunteering, the ideas just keep coming. Jot them down and you’ll soon have plenty of ideas to make recruiting volunteers—old and young alike—easier and more successful.

Keeping Teens Healthier With Volunteering

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

volunteer screening, volunteer background checkAccording to Volunteering in America, youth in this country volunteered 377 million hours of volunteer services in 2010. The number of teens aged 16 – 19 who gave all of these hours was an astounding 4.4 million, which represents 26% of all youth in that age group.

An older study showed that among the larger youth age group, 12 – 18 years old, 15.5 million kids contributed more than 1.3 billion hours of service. Young people volunteer more than adults, and they do it out of a sense of altruism. Making the world a better place and helping others are very important to young volunteers.

Teens can be a valuable source of new volunteers for any organization. Not only do they provide labor, but they can also give older folks a focus. Matching young volunteers with older mentors can create mutually beneficial and even long-lasting relationships.

Adolescents who volunteer typically perform better in school than their peers. Studies show they are also less likely to engage in risky behaviors. Plus, volunteering helps kids feel good about themselves. All of this adds up to healthier, happier and safer teens.

Volunteering can also lead to the release of endorphins in the brain. Ever heard of a runner’s high? A similar effect can come from doing good things for others. Endorphins reduce stress, which helps build a stronger immune system. They can also reduce head and back aches, depression and blood pressure.

If you’re recruiting volunteers, arm yourself with these facts and present them to youth groups at local schools or churches. Spread the word through social media about the positions your organization has that are appropriate for teen volunteers.

Get youth involved in your organization. You’ll be doing them, as well as yourself, a favor!

Easy Ways to Keep Your Volunteers

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012

volunteer, screening, background checkOnce you recruit and screen volunteers for your organization, it’s important to hold on to them. A steady volunteer staff helps the organization run more smoothly, saves time and resources, and helps promote your cause in the community.

Here are five ways to keep good volunteers:

  1. Put out the welcome mat. Welcome your volunteers and demonstrate that you’re glad they’re there, whether it’s their first day or their 101st day. Taking volunteers for granted is too easy to do. Trouble is, it’s no secret. They can feel it—and it’s a sure way to demoralize them.
  2. Include volunteers in the mission. Help them feel like they are part of the greater good. Explain their role and how it helps to serve your clients or cause.
  3. Show appreciation. Say “thank you” at every opportunity. And do a little more when possible. Throw a party, bring in cupcakes or send notes and cards. Everyone wants to be appreciated—especially when they’re giving of themselves and their time.
  4. Speaking of time, respect it. Volunteers often worry that the spare hour of time they can give is not enough. Or, that if they offer an hour, you’ll take two. Find ways to make things work for time-strapped volunteers. Do you have tasks that can be completed in one-, two- or three-hour segments? Let people know, and then don’t let them exceed the given time. Send them home with a smile.
  5. Be open to suggestions. You don’t have to let a volunteer tell you how to run your organization. However, many have rich work experience that could improve your processes and procedures. At least give volunteers the respect of listening to their suggestions.

It’s not easy to see a good volunteer leave, but don’t encourage it by failing to do the simple things that can really work to keep them happy!