Schools are continually asking, “How do I increase student volunteer hours without just mandating more?” The short answer - motivate don’t just mandate! Similar to the carrot vs. the stick, the right combination of mandated hours and incentives can make all the difference.


In truth, motivations are as varied as the students walking the halls. Many students volunteer to give back, others satisfy their need for inclusion while others volunteer to get ahead on college transcripts. Short of asking every student their motivations, consider how three common motivators - inclusion, recognition and financial opportunities - are present in your strategies.


The four strategies below are not only great starting points but actual strategies MobileServe clients have reported successful increasing volunteer hours on campus.


Provide Graduation Recognition 
Just as honor societies recognize exemplary academics with specialized graduation cords, schools who maximize service hours recognize exemplary community service with unique graduation cords. This strategy appeals to the need for individual recognition but also increases visibility for volunteer programs!

Service Resumes 
Getting ahead on college transcripts is a clear motivator for many students. Providing college ready service resumes takes the burden off compiling, reviewing and certifying this information while providing a professional document that helps students maximize visibility to their community service. Want to know more? Consider: Changing Landscape of Service Learning.

Establish Service Societies
Formalizing a service society on campus appeals to all of our motivations for belonging. Adding to the benefit, service societies amplify the voices of the biggest champions on campus. After graduation, service societies are great for college applications. A win/win/win strategy! In this particular case, those who maximize volunteer hours often mandate a minimum number of service hours for members. A great example of an integrating motivation with mandated hours.

Announce Scholarship Requirements 
Many college scholarships have volunteer requirements. It is important to make students aware that their volunteering today can be a precursor to fund their college education. This appeal to the practical side of volunteering resonates especially well with students and parents!


Implementing volunteer policies and programs that appeal to a broad base of individual motivations can help maximize volunteer hours, community outcomes and life lessons learned. And to learn those life lessons, much like the journey of a thousand miles, students must be motivated to take the first step.


MobileServe is committed to removing the challenges that come with volunteer hour tracking, verification and reporting. We have a simple belief that educators would like to focus more energy on student outcomes and less time on documentation. Visit to learn more.


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