Are you finding that your nonprofit is always looking for volunteers? Are you ready to engage more in-depth with your local community? As we enter into the beginning of a new school year, we’re sharing ways nonprofits can connect and engage with local schools around them. Whether it’s grade school or college, many students find themselves either looking for or in need of volunteer hours. How do you get started in establishing these connections?
Here’s our step-by-step guide.
Step One: Locate nearby opportunities.
Brainstorm with your staff about potential opportunities to utilize student volunteers. Is there an elementary, middle, or high school nearby? Schools with younger students may be a great option for supply drives or fundraisers. Located near a college? Many students find themselves in organizations that mandate or encourage volunteer hours. Make a list of all possible opportunities to then go through more in-depth as a staff.
Step Two: Think of ways they can help.
This will differ greatly based on age, availability of transportation, necessary supplies, and more. For nonprofits looking to collect food or household items for their cause, supply drives can be done at any level. Partnering with a local school or club can help you promote and facilitate the drive while establishing more awareness about your organization.
If your organization needs hands on deck either in your office or at your next event, high schoolers preparing to graduate or students in college may be a good fit. As high schoolers begin to add volunteer hours to their resume, getting them plugged into your organization can be a great way to establish a lasting connection. Many colleges or college organizations require students to complete a certain amount of volunteer hours per semester or year. This can be another way to establish partnerships and recruit new volunteers as they pass the word on to their friends.
Step Three: Find out who to contact.
When looking to partner with local elementary, middle, and high schools, a good contact might be the head of the PTA, the head of a student leadership club (like Student Council) or a front office representative. If you’re unsure, calling the school to ask who to contact can help put you in touch with the right person.
If you’re looking to partner with college students, you’ll have a plethora of options. Greek fraternities and sororities are a great place to start, as many require mandated volunteer hours. Other clubs like Student Council, Service Fraternities, or On-Campus Activities groups can also be good leads to make an initial connection. Talking to clubs and organizations rather than individual students can help you cover a larger need for volunteers and maybe more appealing for students as they get to volunteer alongside their friends and classmates.
Step Four: Make it easy for them to participate.
Having specific, outlined roles for your volunteers will help your staff facilitate the event or position with ease. If your nonprofit is recruiting student volunteers to help with a charitable 5K you’re hosting, be sure to assign them roles and duties ahead of time. If you’re recruiting student volunteers to help at your next fundraiser event, give them a specific point of contact and meeting place beforehand. Eliminating confusion prior to the volunteering will help both parties want to continue to work together and make it an enjoyable connection. When it comes to advertising the need for volunteers, get social with it. Utilize social media channels to share about volunteer opportunities and engage with local students.
Step Five: Offer recognition.
Recognition doesn’t have to be public, but it’s important to find a way to recognize and record the hours or tasks each student does for your organization. Keeping track of this can help them continue to want to be a part of your volunteer team as they work towards completing certain volunteer hours. Knowing these hours can also be helpful to schools or organizations as they use the hours to assist them in planning programming or with student awards.
Another way to offer recognition is through giving student volunteers incentives. Maybe this means free pizza for helping out at a night event, a free t-shirt at the event they’re helping with, or admission to an upcoming event you’re hosting. Aside from volunteer hours, incentives can be that one last motivating step students need to want to get involved.
Embrace New Connections
While long lasting and fruitful partnerships with local schools may take time to establish, these new connections can lead to opportunities far beyond just one volunteer opportunity. As you welcome students of all ages to help, you get one step closer to continuing your mission and spreading the word of your organization to your local community.
Have you had success with implementing partnerships with local schools and students?
We’d love to hear about it.