From elementary through high school, many students participate in community volunteer projects through their school or extracurricular activities. Generally someone coordinates these activities and students simply show up, are told what to do, and have fun while serving their community. One of the main incentives for participation is having a volunteer record for putting on a college application. However, for young adults who have graduated from high school (potentially a number of years ago), volunteering is a different story.
Millennials Volunteer the Least
Unfortunately, millennials have the lowest volunteering rate of all age groups. According to recent figuresreleased by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 18.7 percent of adults aged 20 to 24 had volunteered between September 2013 and September 2014. Those between the ages of 25 to 34 were slightly better with 22 percent having volunteered in that time period.
The lack of volunteering from millennials may have to do with their new found freedom. Many are navigating new cities, new jobs, and there isn’t someone coordinating their activities anymore. For millennials just entering the “real world,” it takes time to find out who they are, and studies show that this generation is taking longer to get traction in their careers. Because of this, there is an opportunity for companies to spend time working with young professionals to involve them in community projects. This can benefit the company too — studies have shown that corporate volunteer programs can increase employee engagement.
How to Increase Your Millennials’ Volunteering
At the beginning of this year, I was asked to coordinate volunteer efforts for the company I work at. I know first hand what it takes get millennials volunteering as the majority of my team are millennials.
Here are some tips to get your young employees motivated:
- Establish a Giving Culture – it’s important to let your millennial employees know why your company gives back to the community and how it affects your company culture. This will help them see how their efforts can positively affect those around them. Millennials want to give back through their workplace, so let them know what the policies and procedures are for volunteering during work hours.
- Nominate a Volunteer Coordinator – choose someone (doesn’t have to be a millennial) who is passionate about community service, great at planning events and working with schedules, and who works well with others. Having a coordinator will eliminate the time it takes for others to find volunteer opportunities, and they can easily sign up through the coordinator.
- Contact Community Service Organizers – the volunteer coordinator should make a list of contacts from nonprofits and other companies that offer group volunteering opportunities in your surrounding area. Once the list is established, start contacting these individuals to see what times and dates volunteer projects work for both parties.
- Timing is Everything – To start, be sure to check with your main company calendar to make sure a volunteer activity doesn’t overlap with an important work-related event. Also, chose opportunities that vary in time and date each month. If you plan a volunteer project in the morning at the beginning of the month, consider planning an event at night at the end of the month. Offering a variety of volunteer events that start at different times will cater to those with different schedules.
- Take Pictures and Record Time – Make sure to take pictures of group members in action while volunteering. Millennials frequently share photos through their social media platforms, and they will become ambassadors for your volunteering efforts. Also, make sure to log each team members time spent volunteering. Doing this will allow them to see their direct effort, and how they are a part of something bigger than themselves.
How are you motivating your millennial employees to give back to the community?