Be a Family Volunteer-Friendly Organization

Family volunteering is a natural multiplier of volunteers

The time is right for your organization to rethink the power of family volunteering.

Encouraging and supporting family volunteering continues to be a great opportunity for non-profit organizations to grow their volunteer base and expose new generations to the positive impact of volunteerism!

Family volunteering is a natural multiplier of volunteers. Recruiting one family member and creating an inviting environment will most likely bring in the rest of the family. With more families involved, stronger ties will be forged between and organization and the communities that they serve.

Family volunteering is not a new idea but it is definitely underutilized by the majority of non-profit agencies. The time has come for more non-profit organizations to rethink how they can leverage this volunteer resource to achieve their goals and missions.

Everyday, family volunteering goes on in the community. Families participate in fundraising drives for schools and canvass for the organizations that they are involved in. They help with the community dance and sell raffle tickets for their hockey and ringette teams.

The challenge for volunteer organizations is to harness this enthusiasm and find a way to incorporate it into the needs of organizations that fall outside of the immediate family circle.

In order to incorporate families, organizations need to have an understanding of what this group looks like.  They must take a hard look at the new face of the modern family. To be successful, organizations need to move away from thinking in terms of the traditional nuclear family. The face of today’s family looks a lot different, with single parent families headed by either men or women, common-law couples, same-sex couples and mixed family units with step mothers, fathers and siblings all factored into the mix!

Non-profit organizations need to develop new strategies to better engage families:

Design meaningful positions for both the family and your organization. Families want to know that the work they do has value and makes an impact on your organization. It is your job to share that impact with every member of the family unit.

Busy schedules might mean that families often can’t commit to a set time every week or a long term commitment, so design volunteer opportunities that are flexible and accommodating.

Remember that there are a few seasonal times throughout the year where normally busy family schedules may be lighter; capitalize on that by designing volunteer opportunities accordingly.

Don’t forget to look for volunteer opportunities within your organization that will allow families to work on projects virtually or remotely.

Be willing to ask the family how they see themselves fitting in to your organization. You may be surprised to learn that they have already thought of something their family can offer.

All volunteers deserve the best training you can give them and families are no exception. Make sure that all family members understand their volunteer roles. Be prepared to adjust your usual training methods by using short videos, or a collection of photographs to help younger children understand who your organization is and what you do. For more ideas and resources aimed at young volunteers, visit Volunteer Calgary’s library.

To get the most out of your family volunteering strategy, create childcare options for volunteers without becoming a babysitting service. Remember, family volunteering should strengthen family bonds, so make sure your activities require cooperation among the family members.  

Although family volunteering may not be the “magic pill” for all your volunteer woes, it does offer opportunities for organizations to significantly enlarge their volunteer pool in the short term. Over the long term, it allows volunteer organizations to educate and groom the next generation of volunteers at a young and impressionable age.

“How lovely to think that no one need wait a moment; we can start now, start slowly changing the world! How lovely that everyone, great and small, can make a contribution.”  Anne Frank


About Propellus

Propellus is a non-profit organization that has been empowering organizations since 1955. Through a dynamic range of consulting, training and member services, it helps organizations envision and realize new paths, practices and possibilities. Propellus guides, mentors and educates clients, arming them with tools and resources to help boost organizational effectiveness. Propellus strengthens organizations; in doing so, it leads the way toward building thriving communities.
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