Want to Recruit Younger Volunteers? Host a Nonprofit Event That Attracts Students

Living in a college town has its benefits—especially because autumn is so much more inspiring with a university nearby. Fallen leaves sound crunchier, your local Starbucks feels so studious and a hooded sweatshirt in your team’s colors is particularly cozy.

And basing your nonprofit in a college town is advantageous for your organization too. College students may be more receptive to your need for volunteers than older adults. Their schedules are more flexible and they may be searching for worthwhile experiences to build their resumes. Finally, a great student volunteer could become a promising young staff member upon graduation.

Simply stated: your nonprofit ought to reach out to college students.

Partnering with college students for volunteering and fundraising opportunities will be mutually beneficial. As for which event your nonprofit should host for students, it depends on the kind of help you need.

Nonprofit Need: Engaged Volunteers

Sometimes a location tweak is all you need to engage student volunteers around town. For example, if your nonprofit normally hosts your blood drive at the public library, talk to your local university or community college about using the student union instead.

Hosting a blood drive on campus will build relationships with prospective volunteers by initiating conversation. With plenty of your staff on hand to answer questions about the work you do, you’re likely to pique the interest of blood donors and inspire them to become student volunteers.

Nonprofit Need: Skilled Staffers

Here’s yet another reason to manage your nonprofit as if it was a business. For-profits are keen to create a dynamic presence at college career fairs. And with good reason. It’s easy to spot businesses (and nonprofits) that put effort into recruiting, because it shows in the quality of their employees.

Millennials are attracted to the unique leadership and personal development opportunities offered by nonprofits like yours. Engage millennials at career fairs to find your nonprofit’s newest valuable employee.

Nonprofit Need: Broader Audience

Demographically speaking, college students are perfect for your nonprofit. Except for non-traditional students, college students make up most of the millennials with whom your nonprofit needs to forge a relationship.

Millennials are more social than generations before them—invite them to share their opinion with you and they’ll be more likely to share your cause with others. Host an event that welcomes conversation, like a coffee house chat about social issues relevant to your mission.

How would you rate your nonprofit’s outreach to college students? What kind of events work best for engaging millennials in your area?


Jill Havlat

September 21, 2012

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