How to get college students to volunteer and donate

College students can be drawn to volunteer and donate with these six simple steps.
Date Published
01/15/2016

Remember your college days? For many, college was a time of bonding with friends and making lasting memories. Whether forged in the sorority house, school library, basketball game or even class, college students have many ways of bonding with each other. One of the most rewarding ways college students can bond is by volunteering with their peers. In fact, millennials love giving back and helping their community.

According to the 2015 Millennial Impact Report, 84 percent of all millennials made some kind of donation in 2014. They’re no stranger to volunteering too, as nearly 70 percent of millennial employees volunteered for at least one hour. They also donated often even though they lacked the funds to do so. Although many millennials are burdened with school loans, they still donate and care about seeing their donations in action. Although millennials and college students donate the lowest amount on average, they are open to other philanthropic opportunities.

Volunteering is a great option for college students because it costs them only a few hours of their time and leaves them money for other expenses. It also gives them time to bond with other students and make lasting friendships. How can your organization draw young adults to volunteer and donate? These five methods will ensure college donors stay loyal to your organization and volunteer often:

1. Partner with a sorority or fraternity
Sororities and fraternities love to give to causes. According to Elite Daily, undergraduate Greek life members volunteer an average of $7 million dollars and over 800,000 hours of volunteer work per year. Many are nationally partnered with organizations through a Panhellenic council, but smaller Greek organizations have the freedom to choose which causes they give to. Meet with the event chair of a sorority or fraternity with good standing nearby your organization. Ask for a volunteer partnership to fill the student’s volunteer hour requirements, as many require volunteer hours as a part of membership. Give the sororities and fraternities the opportunity to advertise your cause with T-shirts or branded promotional items. It’s also possible to partner with Greek organizations for large campus events to spread the word and keep volunteers coming back.

2. Involve students in planning
One way to guarantee students will volunteer is to include them in decision-making processes. Create a small committee of students dedicated to your cause. Then, recruit these students to deliver your on-campus marketing and organize events. These individual volunteers can also become interns for your organization and serve as campus representatives. Provide useful materials they can wear or use to show pride in the cause such as T-shirts or backpacks with your nonprofit logo. Giving students power in a nonprofit means they will respect the organization and speak highly of it to their peers. It’s free marketing and volunteer work all at once.

3. Offer events and experiences
According to Forbes, the most successful nonprofits are moving away from a strictly “donate now” approach toward engaging events. This could mean creating events such as dance marathons, bike races, 5ks or art festivals; charities realize their millennials and students desire a deeper connection with the the cause. Plan an event at a local college and partner with a departmental office for the cause. For example, if an organization focuses on bone cancer research, partner with the university’s College of Sciences for a “Halloween Bone Rattling” dance marathon. If your organization is a mental health advocacy group, offer free meditation workshops certain days of the week at local colleges and place fliers accordingly. There are many creative executions, but involving the student body in experiences instead of obligations makes them more likely to stay with your cause.

4. Provide small scholarships
According to U.S. News and World Report, many colleges offer scholarships to students who volunteer in junior high or high school. Small organizations can take this one step further by offering small scholarship raffles; between $100 and $500 to one lucky volunteer. This works especially well for students who contend with high textbook prices. For example, a veterinary student may have hundreds of dollars worth of school books. If your organization is a local animal shelter, offer to pay for a student’s textbooks for one year in a lucky raffle drawing. This will give college students an incentive to come volunteer at your organization and continue involvement with your cause.
 
5. Partner with religious organizations
Many religion-based campus groups give and volunteer often. If your organization happens to be a religious nonprofit or a faith-based organization, find a campus group with the same beliefs that will partner with your cause. Offer religious-based events such as an after Mass dinner to discuss your organization and the benefits of volunteering with you. By partnering with a religious club, your organization should receive a steady stream of donations and volunteers.

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