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Inside The Mind of a Youth Volunteer: Subscriber Circle Recap

Posted By Helen Lin, Youth Auditor, September 15, 2016
Updated: September 14, 2016
Volunteer Toronto Subscriber Circle 

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes 


Whether they are the front-line and driving force of your organization, or they play an integral role in putting smiles on your seniors’ faces, engaging high school volunteers can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be!

 Helen Lin - Volunteer Toronto Youth Auditor
 Helen Lin - Youth Audtior

For our August Subscriber Circle on “Engaging Youth Volunteers” we asked high school student and Volunteer Toronto Youth Auditor Helen Lin to attend and offer her perspective to the discussion. Here’s Helen’s thoughts on three of the main questions discussed at the circle. 







Question 1: Some of my volunteers come intermittently, how can I get them to maintain regular shifts?

Helen’s Observation: Two volunteer managers shared that they do not sign any papers until the volunteer has reached the minimum commitment that they signed up for. I think it is certainly acceptable to be strict with your no-show policies, but attendance and punctuality can also be enforced by letting your volunteers know how important their work is to the organization.

Question 2: How can I convince volunteers to stay beyond their 40-hour mark?

Helen’s Observation: There are two types of volunteers: the ones who just want to complete the bare minimum, and the ones who want to seek meaningful opportunities. For the first group, have a conversation about the meaning behind volunteering. Lead them to an epiphany! When I started volunteering, I was caught up in the number of hours, but since then I have been able to think more deeply about my work and what it all means – to myself, the organization, and the community.


Question 3: What if it’s just not working out for the volunteer?

Helen’s Observation: They tell you networking is the most important skill these days, and it can really be beneficial for your volunteers. From the application and interview, you will know what volunteer’s goals are, or why they applied for your organization. Unfortunately, sometimes it doesn’t end up working out. One volunteer manager shared that she had many interested volunteers but no place for them because the organization is centred around heavy conversations concerning death. If you know another organization that could use an enthusiastic volunteer, being that connection could help make a perfect match.


Need more help? We’ve got you covered! This post only scraps the surface of ways to better engage youth in volunteering with your organization. If you are looking for some solid advice and next steps, we would highly recommend booking a Youth Audit, where our Auditors go into detail on the topics that are involved with youth in volunteers, such as selection and training, communication, benefits and perks, and promotions and advertising!

Helen Lin is a grade 10 students at TOPS - Marc Garneau Collegiate and she is a Youth Auditor at Volunteer Toronto. She started formally volunteering at age 12, and hasn't stopped her community involvement since. Helen has also volunteered at SickKids Foundation, TEDxYouth@Toronto, Ladies Learning Code, and Baycrest Hospital. Her passions include gender rights, sustainable development, global health, social innovation, engineering, and entrepreneurship."


Tags:  engaging youth volunteers  High School volunteers  How to get youth volunteers  Youth volunteers 

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