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How to Activate Young People Around Environmental Issues How to Activate Young People Around Environmental Issues

How to Activate Young People Around Environmental Issues

by Naomi Hirabayashi
November 16, 2012

Climate change is the problem and we need a solution. At DoSomething.org we believe that the solution lies in young people, 25 years old and under. They are creative, active, wired, and frustrated that our world is so messed up.

We harness that awesome energy and unleash it on causes teens care about. Almost every week, we launch a new national campaign. The call to action is always something that has a real impact and doesn’t require money, an adult, or a car.

On Thursday, November 15 at 8 p.m. EST, in the last hour of 24 Hours of Climate Reality, I'll be discussing how to activate young people on key environmental issues. Not surprisingly, the way you activate young people around important social issues requires different tactics than someone who is 60 years old. The biggest differentiator? The dear old dollar.

At Dosomething.org we also administered a National Survey to understand how, why, and where young people want to volunteer. The more relatable we make the climate change discussion, the more opportunity for young people to identify with the issue, get pissed about it, and act on it. If you're an environmental organization, here's a checklist on how to engage young volunteers based on our findings from the Dosomething.org National Survey:

Social: For most young people, volunteering is desirable and enjoyable because they get to spend time with friends and meet other peers.

Accessible: Young people want to volunteer close to home (but not at home).

Brief, Singular: Short activities are best, and those that allow for different levels of engagement are better (5 min vs. an hour vs. a half day). One-time commitments are also preferable.

Familiar: What do young people do for fun? Can it be turned into volunteering? The number 1 way athletes volunteer: working with young people in sports and rec programs. Same goes for musicians with art and music programs.

Focused on People: The action addresses a fundamental need for someone. Issues like hunger, homelessness, and welfare are particularly important to young people.

Spotlight-Free: Many young people would prefer to remain anonymous or help from a distance. In the mobile age, they're more accustomed to anonymity.

Beneficial for Volunteers Too: Young people who volunteer are worried about getting into a good college and paying for it. Make sure your volunteer activity can be a resume booster, or ties to scholarship opportunities.

Want to find out more? Make sure to watch on Thursday. I'll discuss case studies of environmental campaigns we've run at Dosomething.org and dive deeper into best practices on how to best activate young people.

There are 44 million young people ages 18 to 30 in America. If every one of those individuals took a meaningful action to fight climate change, imagine the possibilities.

To become a leader in the climate change movement, visit here and pledge your name in support of a better, cleaner tomorrow.

Illustration by Corinna Loo 

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