When extraordinary change agent and high school student Crystal Yan reached out to us and wanted to write a guest post with tips for nonprofits about how to better engage youth volunteers – we were thrilled! Crystal is co-founder of The Social Startup Summit and a speaker and consultant on youth marketing and social media engagement. (She's also a designer and hosts a blog that makes economic education accessible for kids in grades K-12.)
---As a 17-year-old among seasoned professionals at many of the technology and entrepreneurship events I attend in the Silicon Valley, I often find myself smiling to myself in the middle of a conversation as professionals, many parents, wonder aloud: "Are youth optimistic about global issues like climate change?" "How do we reach out to youth?"
Non-profits, in particular, can use some work in engaging young volunteers. I've put together the following recruitment plan to help non-profits reach young volunteers in various venues. Take a look below, and feel free to browse the presentation from my most recent speaking engagement for more ideas.
High School Student Volunteer Recruitment Plan
- Put up pamphlets/brochures. Include a website. If applicable, clarify if you can sign off on volunteer hours and/or be a reference or offer a letter of recommendation.
- Ask the center coordinator if you can write up a short spiel for the morning announcements. Make sure the spiel includes your website. Also, ask the center coordinator to nominate some outstanding student leaders. Reach out to them. Write up a Twitter-sized (about 140 characters) spiel about your volunteer opportunity, include your website's volunteer page URL, and ask them to post it in their Facebook/AIM statuses. Trust me, this is how we promote events to our peers.
- If looking to host a presentation, host it at the high school during lunch in the career center. Contact the career center coordinator or if it's a high school, the PTA/PTSA (another area of interest to tap into). At the presentation, focus on having a brief, energetic presentation, and lots of time for Q&A.
High School and College Service Club Chapters
- Email electronic copies of pamphlets/brochures and direct them to your website
- Reach out to service club chapters in your local area. If you want to get high school student volunteers in the Bay Area, this page is a great resource, just look up which cities each area includes to find your local high school service club: https://interact5170.com/nucleus/about.php?itemid=188 (Full disclosure: I am part of Interact 5170 District Council). If you're located outside the Bay Area, work on finding your local Interact/Key Club/Leos Club district and their webpage for emails and other contact information.
City Teen Centers
- Put up pamphlets/brochures in your city's teen centers. Again, make sure to include a website. If applicable, clarify if you can sign off on volunteer hours and/or be a reference or offer a letter of recommendation.
- Go to your city's website, usually .gov or .org (for example, the city of Fremont is https://www.fremont.gov) and look for your city's youth advisory council. Contact them!
I hope you've found this helpful. Feel free to browse the presentation from my most recent speaking engagement for more ideas on engaging young volunteers.Good luck; I welcome your questions, comments and opportunities to speak about engaging youth via social media.
Yours in service,
Speaker and consultant on youth marketing and social media engagement.
Follow Crystal on Twitter: @crystalcy
Contact Crystal at: bit.ly/contactcy
Follow Crystal's blog: crystaly.wordpress.com
Crystal Yan (严晨)
Trilingual Chinese-American 17-years-young Social Entrepreneur, Blogger, Graphic Designer. High School Class of 2010