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“Young people should be encouraged to take on leadership roles.”

Young people have the skills, spirit and creativity to make a huge positive impact in their communities. And many young people do. However, all too often this opportunity is missed because of misjudgements and organisational barriers.

Over the last few years Volunteering Queensland has been working to help overcome this, through exploring the volunteering practices of young people and building a body of knowledge around best practice approaches. In 2011, they developed the report, ‘Young People as Volunteers: A guide to moving beyond traditional practices’ to offer clear strategies that can be adopted by organisations to more effectively work in collaboration with young volunteers.

Here are five useful points on how to more effectively work with young people:

CULTURE: Young people respond well to an inclusive, flexible and goal-oriented organisational culture. Develop a culture that constantly evolves, striving to more and more effectively support young volunteers.

LINKING: Have a personal approach and make young volunteers feel valued by understanding their interests, reasons and motivations. Make a connection with the right young volunteers for your organisation, and ensure they have a positive experience.

ENGAGING: Take the time to speak with young volunteers, and ensure they are making meaningful and mutually beneficial contributions that align with their and the organisation’s values, priorities and outcomes. Have an open-door policy.

BELONGING: Empower young people to take ownership and be ‘part of a team’ to generate a significant sense of belonging. This most often results in a more rewarding volunteering experience, greater contributions and a higher level of performance.

LEADERSHIP: Leadership opportunities are a strong motivator. Allow committed volunteers to be recognised as valuable and important to the organisation. This will increase their involvement, commitment and work ethic.

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