How to Attract Talent to Nonprofit Internships

Written by Datis Admin

July 18, 2018

How to Attract Talent to Nonprofit Internships

Student interns are a great addition to any growing team. They’re motivated, ambitious, tech savvy, and eager to gain experience in their field of study. These interns can be significantly helpful for nonprofit organizations that could benefit from having an extra set of hands around the office at a fraction of the cost of a salaried employee.

According to the DATIS 2017 Executive Priorities study, only 18% of nonprofit executives believe their organization is adequately staffed to deal with the current demand for their services. The same executives also labeled their inability to offer competitive pay as a top recruiting challenge. It seems that nonprofit executives are in need of labor options that won’t break the bank.

Unfortunately, nonprofit internships fail to draw large application pools, leaving organizations with little to no options to work with. This can be frustrating for executives, who must go above and beyond to recruit talent to their organizations. Below we listed a few ways these organizations can attract more candidates towards their nonprofit internships.

Post to the Right Channels
When looking for internships, there is a slim chance that a student will actively go on a nonprofit’s website or social media pages in search of an internship. It’s also unlikely that a student will go out of his or her way to enquire about possible internship opportunities. This means that organizations must be smart and strategic about where they post their position openings.

Companies like Handshake and UCAN partner directly with local universities and act as an online campus job board for students. These can be great to appeal to a large amount of students at once. However, if you’d rather target students passionate about helping their communities, is a job board specifically for nonprofits and social impact organizations. Nonprofits must go out of their way to make their internships easily accessible if they wish to receive more qualified candidates.

Get Involved with the Campus 
Nonprofits can’t wait for students to come to them. Instead, they must try to get involved with their local college campuses for greater visibility. This interaction can occur in a variety of ways but it does can require some creativity from nonprofits. Setting up a booth at the school’s internship fair is a great place to start.

Nonprofits can also think outside the box and partner with different clubs and courses around the school. There are plenty of social impact clubs with missions that may coincide with nonprofit’s. Finding these clubs and introducing the organization can be a great way to find passionate students and potential interns.

Emphasize the Experience
Nonprofit internships are a great experience for students and highlighting this is crucial when attracting candidates towards the position. Unlike the stereotypical intern that runs around getting coffee for their disengaged management team, nonprofit interns will be doing meaningful, fulfilling work around their community.

According to Forbes, today’s college students, who are a part of Generation Z, want to accumulate rewarding experiences. Nonprofits must emphasize that students will leave their internship knowing that they made a positive impact and contributed to something greater than themselves. This is especially important if the nonprofit is advertising an unpaid internship or a lower hourly pay. Nonprofits must realize that the experience they offer cannot be replicated in a for-profit, corporate environment. Making this a key feature of the internship could attract students that would usually pass the opportunity up.

Highlight the Culture
Students don’t want to be a small fish in a big pond throughout their internship, they want to be a part of a team that respects their time and opinions. This is achieved through a supportive and trusting organizational culture. Nonprofits have a unique opportunity to open student’s eyes to the joy of working for an organization that emphasizes a sense of comradery and togetherness.

Culture is also important to today’s college students. Highlighting the fact that interns will be joining a fun work environment that values their contributions can encourage students to join their team with confidence.

Interns will continue to play a vital role in the day-to-day operations of nonprofit organizations. This is why it’s important that executives take time when setting up their nonprofit internships and give themselves the best chance to get quality applicants through their doors.

This DATIS Blog was written by James Clark, DATIS, on September 28th, 2017 and may not be re-posted without permission.