Research Finds Volunteer Efforts Down Among Teens — Five Rules for a Successful Volunteer Program
Redondo Beach, CA, May 3, 2009 — A study conducted by Tufts University’s Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) found an increasingly declining trend in teen volunteer activity for the years 2005 through 2007. In an effort to assist volunteer coordinators and nonprofits dependent upon volunteers, Jesse Torres, bank executive, lifelong volunteer and recipient of the President’s Volunteer Service Award, today provided to nonprofit organizations the five rules to maintaining long-lasting volunteer participation.
CIRCLE has been tracking volunteer activity since 2002. In 2007, CIRCLE found volunteer activity at its lowest point since it began tracking volunteer activity. Many factors may explain this phenomenon, from a reduction in volunteer program budgets at nonprofits to the need of teens to work at paying jobs in order to compensate for expected losses in college grants and scholarships.
“Loss of volunteers severely affects public health programs, recreational programs, educational programs and every other type of program that relies on the donation of time,” said Mr. Torres. “Volunteers are truly the lifeline of most nonprofit organizations. Without the contributed human capital, many organizations cannot exist. Executive Directors and volunteer coordinators must maintain programs that retain and recruit new volunteers.”
Mr. Torres provides the following tips to nonprofits:
1) Provide a framework that includes policies, procedures, tools, orientation, commonly asked questions and a point of contact for new volunteers, regardless of the volunteer’s role. The goal should be to make the volunteer feel comfortable before stepping into unknown waters. This information will not only allow volunteers to become comfortable and well acquainted with the organization and their role, but also allows them to envision playing a larger role within the organization before they even begin. Notwithstanding the framework provided, to the extent possible provide sufficient flexibility to allow the volunteer to apply individuality in problem solving and execution in a manner that is conducive to each individual's style and preference while still accomplishing what needs to be done within the timeframes required.