As mentioned in our October VolunteerHub Brief, a new non-profit geared toward getting young children involved in volunteering was recently launched in Austin, Texas. The Volunteering Familiesorganization, called Little Helping Hands, was founded by Marissa Fogel. In a September 8th press release, Fogel explains her reasons for starting the cause: “I started Little Helping Hands to inspire community service in early childhood and to show that it can be a fun and positive learning experience for the entire family.” She further points out, “Introducing children as young as four to volunteerism creates a foundation for acts of compassion, generosity, and responsibility throughout adolescence and into adulthood — not to mention a wonderful way to spend time together as a family.” Because the group’s mission is to get children involved, most activities take place after school or on weekends and are chosen with all age groups in mind.

From a volunteer coordinator’s perspective, attracting entire households to help out at your organization is obviously a great way to boost any program. Initiatives such as the National Family Volunteer Day, sponsored by the HandsOn Network and commemorated annually on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, offer an excellent opportunity to get families to join your efforts. This national day of service also receives a great deal of support from Disney, giving savvy coordinators the opportunity to leverage a household brand when trying to tap into this demographic. In 2010, Disney’s “Give a Day, Get a Disney Day” promotion offered those who volunteered with a participating agency for a day a free one-day admission to either Walt Disney World or Disneyland.

Attracting families can be tricky; however, here are some suggestions. For starters, you certainly want to be visible in places where families gather. Some suggestions would be schools, churches, recreation centers, boy scout/girl scout meetings, and youth sports facilities. Once you’ve narrowed this down, whether you speak to folks in person or simply leave marketing materials, remember to highlight the benefits to the family. For instance, points out that volunteering as a family:

  • Strengthens family communications and bonds
  • Allows family members to be role models
  • Builds shared memories
  • Increases commitment to volunteering and community
  • Provides quality family time

Pointing out benefits to the volunteers will certainly help your case for recruitment, so don’t be shy about explaining that volunteering is a win-win activity.

The final piece of the puzzle is insuring that you have projects appropriate for various age groups. You don’t want family-driven projects to be so difficult that children can’t do them or so simple that adults are bored.  Again, FamilyCares has many great ideas on its web site that you can use as a starting point for your own planning. The site also gives details of projects in which even very young children can participate.

To learn more about the organizations listed in this article, go to: