To round off all of our great discussions about the Millennial Impact Report, #MCON2012, and the ways in which millennials interact with nonprofits, I thought we should talk about one of the most important aspects of the report: millennial volunteering. According to the report, 63% of us volunteered last year, and 41% planned to volunteer more in 2012. The report also shows that there are varied ways millennials enjoy volunteering- from one time opportunities to ongoing commitments. I earn my paycheck helping people decide how, when, and where they’ll serve. How do you know which is right for you?
One Time Commitments
One time commitments tend to be special events (think fundraisers, walks, etc), large days of service, or special projects that don’t require a commitment past completion of the project.
- Easy to schedule- good for students or others who are in transition or busy
- Possible to meet a large number of other volunteers or include your friends & family (good for those looking to be social)
- Special skills usually aren’t needed (unless the project requires very specific skills)
- Get started quickly (usually you won’t need to do background check paperwork, lots of training, etc.)
- Find out about different organizations & “shop around” for the best fit for a longer commitment
- See the immediate impact of your work (ie: building a house, cleaning up a street, painting a mural)
- Difficult to build lasting relationships with staff or other volunteers
- Limited time to learn or build new skills
- Hard to stay involved with an organization if there are only a few opportunities annually
- Lack of leadership opportunities unless you join a planning committee or board for the event
Long-term commitments tend to come in two flavors. Some organizations need you to commit to a certain length of time upfront (think mentoring for a year or tutoring for a semester.) Some organizations are more flexible- you commit to being a volunteer, but you can choose your level of commitment and activities based on your schedule.
- Possible to build lasting relationship with staff, volunteers, or people you’re serving
- Leadership and skill development opportunities
- See lasting impact of your work (ie: a mentee graduates from high school, a family gains permanent housing, an organization launches a new website)
- Consistency and routine
- Long training or background checks may be needed; more rules & policies to follow
- Scheduling is not always flexible if your life situation changes
- Lack of social opportunities with other volunteers- some long-term commitments require independent work
- Organizations may change & opportunities may be eliminated or shifted, even if you put in a lot of time & effort
One of the newest ways to volunteer for a nonprofit is virtually! Virtual volunteering could mean using a site like Sparked to find something you can do for a nonprofit anywhere in the country, or in some cases, it could mean doing a project for a local nonprofit at home on your own time.
- Totally flexible scheduling (think writing grants, graphic design, website assistance, social media…)
- Opportunities to develop or practice your skills
- Gain resume or portfolio building projects
- Minimal travel
- Nonprofits may/may not have projects for you to do- requires creativity from volunteers & the organizations
- Specific technology & supplies may be needed
- Limited or no interaction with people being served by the nonprofit