The face of volunteering is constantly changing. One recent trend to note is entrepreneurial volunteering. While challenging to attract and manage, these unique opportunities can invigorate an organization with new ideas and engagement.
What is Entrepreneurial Volunteering?
Entrepreneurial volunteers are people who approach nonprofits with their own self-defined projects or roles. While these unique volunteers can be difficult to find and even more difficult to manage, they have the skills, drive and experience to help propel a nonprofit agency to another level, if given the freedom to do so.
Some good examples of entrepreneurial volunteerism include:
- A teenage girl who creates a website that raises funds for a local animal shelter.
- A group of engineers who offer their expertise to streamline the way a food bank sorts and distributes food.
- A local computer science major who develops a mobile app that allows people to report litter and vandalism.
How to Attract Entrepreneurial Volunteers
Because this form of volunteering is nontraditional, the way to attract entrepreneurial volunteers is nontraditional as well. An agency can begin simply by starting the conversation. Reach out to your current volunteers, or even the local newspaper with an open invitation to pitch a big idea. (You might be surprised at the response you get!)
How to Manage Entrepreneurial Volunteers
Entrepreneurial volunteers often approach nonprofits with their idea, creating their own volunteer opportunity, rather than the other way around. The volunteer opportunity they craft for themselves, therefore, rarely fits into an existing volunteer role. Rather than trying to fit them into a specific role, it’s best to just cut the red tape and give them the freedom to pursue their project, offering support and suggestions as needed.
Entrepreneurial volunteerism is all about initiative, independence and creative freedom. It may not be the traditional form of volunteering we are all familiar with, but these highly skilled community leaders, from teens to experienced professionals, can be an agency’s most successful and passionate supporters.