Getting more young people to volunteer can be very beneficial to your club or group. Young people can bring a different perspective, new ideas and lots of energy and enthusiasm. They often bring specific skills that older volunteers may lack, such as social media expertise. They can also be great role models and mentors for younger people who take part in your sport.
If you’re keen to reach out to young people and encourage them to get involved, think about:
- Why young people would want to volunteer
- What you can offer them
- How you describe your volunteering opportunities
- Where you advertise roles.
What motivates a young person to volunteer may be similar to what motivates an older person. They may see it as a chance to meet new people, help others, develop new skills or use ones they already have. Under-16s are often also motivated by the chance to do something fun and different, so bear this in mind if you’re looking to attract school age volunteers.
Young people aged 16 and over often see volunteering as a chance to gain skills and experience, build their CV, make career decisions and meet people who may be able to help them into their future careers. It’s worth considering what opportunities for development and recognition you can offer 16-25 year olds who volunteer with you.
- What sorts of skills will they learn?
- Could you offer them a training qualification alongside their volunteering, for example through Sports Leaders UK?
- Could your club get involved in a scheme like vInspired’s, which gives them awards after they complete a certain number of volunteer hours?
When you advertise for volunteer roles for young people, be sure to promote the fact that they will learn transferrable skills that will benefit them in the world outside your sports club.
Use straightforward, friendly language to describe your volunteering opportunities to young people – avoid jargon. Make it very clear what age range the volunteering opportunity is open to. You may already have young people involved at your club who haven’t even thought about volunteering – perhaps they think it’s something only open to adults. Chat to them to gauge their interest and tell them what the club can offer.
It’s also important to think about young people’s availability: they can’t volunteer during school hours if they’re still in education. And although volunteering is not the same as employment at law, it’s considered best practice to use employment laws and restrictions as a guide for the maximum numbers of hours that young people are allowed to volunteer. See the gov.uk website for more information.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that young people’s availability to volunteer may vary a lot throughout the year. During term time they will have less free time, and they may have no time during busy periods such as in the lead-up to exams. But they may have lots of time on their hands over the summer holidays. Consider how you can structure your volunteering opportunities around these times or make roles as flexible as possible so they’re accessible to young people.
To reach young people outside your club, our page on advertising volunteer vacancies provides a list of suggested places you can advertise volunteering roles. It’s particularly worth getting in touch with schools, colleges, universities and youth organisations in your area.
Lots of young people also use social media. It’s an excellent way for you to spread the word beyond existing networks as people can like, share and retweet your posts. If you have any young volunteers on board already, you could ask them to share volunteer opportunities through their networks and offer suggestions of where you could advertise in the community – they will often know best. There are also specialist youth volunteering organisations such as vInspired that can advertise a youth volunteering opportunity online for you.
#iwill is a campaign to make social action part of life for as many 10-20 year olds as possible. The resources section of its website has lots of useful research and guidance, including a quick reference guide to involving young people in social action.