Summertime Volunteers

Summertime – a season of lounge chairs, beaches, cool mojitos and those smokin’ aviator sunglasses you’ve kept locked away all winter. It’s the season to let your hair down, throw a barbeque in the back and pump the volume on your favorite Fresh Prince jam:

School is out and it’s a sort of a buzz,
A back then I didn’t really know what it was,
But now I see what have of this-
The way that people respond to summer madness.

(That’s right, you hardcore Will Smith fans. Those are the lyrics from one of Will’s greatest rap hits, Summertime – circa 1992.)

For some, however, this is hardly the season to relax. Event planners, festival coordinators and State Fair committees alike are in full-swing planning mode for this summer’s line-up of weddings, parades and shows. We’re betting you’ll need some volunteers to get it all done, so we’ve put together some pointers on how to find, connect with and then recruit those summertime volunteers to your cause.


Hit the road, Jack. Summertime is ripe with vacationing families, traveling church groups and youth organizations. Oftentimes, these roadsters will seek a volunteer opportunity in a new city or town that they’re visiting. You can connect with these volunteers by posting flyers or brochures at hotels, convenience stores and visitor’s centers. Be sure to indicate that the positions are family-friendly and group-approved, and provide contact information (telephone is best) for those who want to get involved. You can even try reaching out to some of these traveling groups beforehand to set-up an opportunity specifically available to them when they arrive.

Get him to the Greek! Sororities and fraternities oftentimes need to complete a certain number of service hours in an academic year (or during the summer) as per Greek Community Involvement protocol. If you allow group volunteering, consider tapping these organizations to see if they’re seeking opportunities in the upcoming months – students are a great fit for summer positions.


Offer incentives. For music festivals, art festivals, State Fairs and the like, offer your volunteers a sweet deal. Maybe it’s a free ticket, free parking or even a backstage pass. These are the kind of events that attract people regardless, so give your volunteers a reason to arrive as a volunteer rather than a regular patron. (Pssst! Did you know VolunteerLocal exports your volunteers into a spreadsheet so you’ll have a complete list of all recipients for those neat perks?)

Finally (and most importantly), have fun. Show those volunteers some love when they arrive – free t-shirts, cool stickers and maybe a drink or food ticket to use when they’ve finished their shift. A great event depends on those great volunteers, so make sure they know how much they’re appreciated. Happy volunteering!


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Youth Volunteers

Children: adorable, starry-eyed, little bundles of…liability. Just kidding. While we know that volunteering empowers youth, helps them feel more connected to their communities and is strongly correlated to a higher high-school graduation rate, as the volunteer coordinator there are still a number of concerns (and some cautionary steps) you’ll want to properly address before lowering that age restriction on your volunteer registration form. Let’s dive in.

First things first. Above all else, the safety and well-being of the youth involved must be a top priority for organizations that choose to work with volunteers who are under the age of 18. Create waivers for parental release, communicate clearly with school officials if the volunteer experience is scheduled as a class trip, and identify if there are any students in attendance with special medical needs or dietary restrictions. Youth volunteers under the age of 6 must be chaperoned by an adult.

Word. Staying in touch with youth volunteers can be tricky. Elementary and middle-school aged children may have email, but that doesn’t mean they check it. They do, however, regularly check Facebook. Fully 95% of all teens ages 12-17 are now online, and 80% of those online teens are users of social media sites (Pew Research Center). It’s a good idea to ask these volunteers to share their Facebook names (which can sometimes differ from their real names), alongside parents’ contact information and perhaps even school IDs if the hours are being applied towards graduation.

Done-zo! Not quite. The last and final piece of this process is the job itself: youth volunteers can’t always be expected to perform the same duties as adults. The obvious conflicts aside (serving alcohol or heavy lifting), some positions are just too dull for youth volunteers. Try to get them involved using their hands and creative minds – children love art tents, interacting with nature and building things. You can even have children volunteer to assist other children with crafts at your event. Keep in mind the kind of positions that will interest youth volunteers, because that’s the quickest way to instill in them positive connotations with volunteer work and community involvement at a young age.


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