Or another effective method for youth mentoring programs to recruit mentors, raise awareness of their cause, and easily raise financial support? Social media and networking offer numerous ways to professionally engage with youth, serving both program needs, like volunteer recruitment, and youth adaptability, to aid in areas like communication. With 96% of Millennials joining a social network and the rise of connecting through Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, presence on these sites is mandatory. In a recent survey, 86% of responding programs use social media for visibility, 76% for recruitment, 73% for participant support, 51% for fundraising, and an overwhelming majority say their program participants use technology to communicate. Despite these high percentages, only 16% found their efforts to be very valuable.
For youth mentoring programs, the usual issues of productivity, return on investment, and security apply. However, technology can also bring up questions about safety, boundaries, appropriateness, confidentiality, relationship ethics, technology and generational gaps, and communication for mentors, mentees, and program staff. Adopting a separate social media policy is necessary for both program staff and participants. Agencies need to be proactive in setting parameters for how their program, their “brand,” is discussed in one of the largest conversations on the planet. Luckily, there is much room for experimentation in this platform and organizations can learn from other nonprofits who have taken the leap and become socially networked.
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