Reaching Further: Cultivating African American, Latino and Youth Volunteers

For a recent assignment for Texas Main Street we did some additional research about how to do a better job recruiting African American, Latino, and youth volunteers to downtown organizations. Alexander Balloon conducted this research for us, and he created an excellent bibliography. We pass along some of the better tips he found in his research below.

 Main Street organizations can do a better job recruiting from groups that have been historically overlooked as volunteers, and in fact, some have never even been asked. There are great opportunities for organizations to engage potential African American volunteers through the Martin Luther King Day of Service.  This is a nationwide effort, held in mid January each year, and offers opportunities for any kind of volunteer group to support community projects.You can post projects on their web site. This is a great gateway opportunity to introduce your organization with a worthwhile volunteer activity downtown.

 Our research has also found that community institutions are key in developing both African American and Latino volunteers. Approaching community leaders and institutions as partners is a great way to begin a broader engagement effort. Local churches, fraternal and professional organizations, community groups affiliated with these groups are excellent potential partners for both individual volunteer recruitment and group activities downtown. College volunteers are also an excellent prospect for involving younger people in your downtown program. New trends among this demographic group reveal a group ethic, civic-mindedness, and technological proficiency. Given these skills, youth are a valuable resource for any organization in search of volunteers. Creating meaningful volunteer projects is crucial to recruiting this group, and getting involved with your local college offers great potential.

 A final new prospective volunteer group is families. Creating age-appropriate volunteer opportunities that span an entire family offers new promise to reach this new group of volunteers. Special events can offer a wide spectrum of age-appropriate tasks to get the whole family involved. Creating opportunities outside of the traditional 9 to 5 timeframe, and offering flexibility is crucial to making your volunteer opportunities family-friendly. Developing volunteers at a young age pays off, as those that volunteer at an early age are more likely to volunteer as they get older.

 In order to reach these groups effectively traditional volunteer recruitment tools have to be stretched, adapted, and reworked. With carefully crafted recruitment and retention efforts your organization can reach even further for new volunteers.  We have created an excellent bibliography about engaging minority volunteers