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Five ideas… for promoting student volunteering at your students' union

Monday 23-02-2015 - 17:11

This Student Volunteering Week, we’re celebrating the impact of student volunteers across the UK, and inspiring more to get involved.

Here’s five ideas for promoting student volunteering at your students’ union.


1. Celebrate your impact

Students are more likely to volunteer if they can see the benefits of their participation. Make sure you measure the impact of what your volunteers achieve, and communicate it clearly, loudly and consistently.

Don’t forget: impact isn’t the amount of volunteers you recruit, or the hours they put in. Impact is the difference they make. That’s the motivating factor, so make sure it’s what you capture and broadcast.


2. Don’t be afraid to be values-led

The student movement has a proud history of altruism and philanthropy. But over the last 20 years, it has become increasingly common for students’ unions to encourage volunteering by promising to boost employability and improve CVs.

This excludes huge numbers of students who might participate out of a sense of intrinsic good, benevolence, or just because it’s fun. And as our Values Crossroads resource argues, appealing to self-interest might actually be damaging your attempts to promote volunteering, rather than helping it.

We’re a values led organisation, and we shouldn't be afraid to act like one.


3. What are your barriers?

Lots of students are keen to volunteer, or even want to volunteer more – but there are barriers in their way. Can we remove any of them?

There’s some barriers we can’t do anything about, but an honest examination of what we can change could go a long way to maximising volunteering.

Do you have a capacity issue which means demand exceeds supply? Do you have internal processes or procedures which makes participation difficult? Does a potential volunteer know exactly where to go to get involved?


4. Maximise your local opportunities
One of the easiest and most impactful ways to volunteer is in the local community. 

Fundraising exercises and international development are both incredible parts of volunteering, but never forget to maximise the number of local opportunities to get involved. Can you reach out to more local charities, organisations, social enterprises, initiatives and associations?

The immediacy of improving the local area can be a huge motivating factor in getting involved.


5. Don’t forget what volunteering is

Students’ unions are mostly charitable organisations – so don’t forget that a huge range of participation is volunteering, including involvement in clubs and societies.

Student volunteering isn’t just bucket shaking for RAG. Make sure you’re celebrating the huge diversity. Never underestimate your contribution.

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Features, Student Opportunities

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