Most volunteer managers probably consider it common practice to recruit volunteers from schools, religious organizations and local companies. But, have you considered targeting your recruitment efforts directly at parents?


While you might think this is a tough market to convince, it might just bring you remarkable returns on your investment. According to the most recent report released by the Corporation for National and Community Service on Volunteering in the United States, parents are more likely to volunteer than non-parents.


These days, parents are tired and worn out, but they all share the same concern: they want to raise their children to be compassionate adults and responsible citizens. Volunteering can help them achieve this. Volunteering is an activity that role models positive values, and it is something parents and children can do together.


So, we’ve put together four simple strategies to help you recruit and retain parent volunteers.


Market Directly to Parents

Create a tab on your web site labeled “Parent Volunteers,” so that all visitors know that parents are actively recruited as volunteers. On the “Parent Volunteers” page, congratulate parents for their interest in making volunteering a part of their lives. Explain that role-modeling volunteering will inspire their children to develop important values of empathy, kindness and service. Just by watching their parents volunteer, children are more likely to become lifelong volunteers themselves. Welcome parents into your organization, and explain that you have made special accommodations so that they – and their children, if they wish – can experience the joy of volunteering together. Be sure to promote this on your social media channels, in your newsletter, and in other promotional items, as well.


Provide At-Home Volunteer Options

Some parents might want to volunteer, but they simply don’t have the time to commute to another location. Sit down with your team and create some volunteer opportunities that parents can do at home. Does your organization need skilled labor, such as sewing, woodworking, cooking, graphic design or writing? Do you need large-scale donations of clothing and food, which parents and their kids could organize in their schools and churches? Even if parents don’t complete the task with their kids, they will still be role-modeling volunteering, which is an important part of raising compassionate people.


Create Kid-Friendly Opportunities

Some parents will volunteer on their own, but some will want to bring their kids along. Create tasks that parents and young kids can do together. These tasks should be simple and not too time-consuming. You can even have three or four jobs, each requiring no more than 20 minutes to complete, and ask parents and young kids to rotate through each job. This will help keep the young kids engaged, and both parents and kids can enjoy interacting while they volunteer. Parent and teen combos can complete longer, more complicated tasks, but these tasks still might need some tweaking so that pairs can work together.


Foster a Sense of Community

If parents are bringing their children to volunteer, one thing that will keep them coming back is a deep sense of community. They are motivated to be there because they are craving quality connection with their children, so help them cultivate this by making their volunteer experience feel like it’s a refreshing time with close friends in a familiar place. Try to schedule families to volunteer together, so that parents and kids develop friendships and look forward to seeing each other. Provide light refreshments when possible, to encourage families to linger afterward and talk. And of course, remember to tell your parent and kid volunteers how they are making an impact on the bigger picture.


When you launch your parent volunteer program, you can ask some of your current volunteers, who are also parents, to act as trainers. This will help onboard your new parent volunteers, and it will also help foster that community spirit. Soon, you will have enough parent volunteers to act as trainers for future new parent volunteers.


By actively recruiting parents as volunteers, you are helping them set an important example for their children. In short, you are, in effect, assisting parents in inspiring their children to become lifelong volunteers.


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