Does your nonprofit organization need help with:
- Work in specialized fields (e.g. help designing a fund development plan)?
- Work in technical fields (e.g. help researching, purchasing, and setting up a new electronic donor database)?
- Research (e.g. conducting an inventory of affordable housing units in your community)?
- Office work?
- Fundraisers (e.g. processing winning bids/purchases at the annual benefit auction)? and
- Miscellaneous jobs (e.g. photography and graphic design for annual reports and event programs; entertainment for special events; etc.)?
If so, maybe it's time to go back to school...and find students who would be interested in donating their time and talents to your cause.
Where to find students to help:
- Many nonprofits recruit student interns/volunteers from universities and colleges, but forget to recruit from community colleges and high schools. Do you know how many community colleges and high schools are in the greater Seattle area? I don't either; but I do know that there are more community colleges than four-year programs and universities. Same for high schools.
- Another point about high schools: many require students to perform a minimum number of hours of community service in order to graduate, thereby making your recruitment job easier.
- Check out the full spectrum of local academic programs related to your organization's work. For example, if you can't find student support for a specific project in a school's social work program, perhaps you can support for it through the school's public policy, public administration, urban studies, or business programs.
Groups of student volunteers can be found in/at:
- Community service groups,
- Student organizations dedicated to a specific field of study or issue,
- Social groups, and
Before you recruit student support, do your homework! Some of the most important things to study include:
- Costs and benefits of working with volunteers/interns,
- How to recruit the right people for your organization, and
- How to structure the volunteer/intern experience so that it is a positive one for all parties involved.
Here are some helpful resources:
- Oregon Volunteers:
- Minnesota Association for Volunteer Administration:
Now Is the Time to Act.
The sooner your nonprofit reaches out to local school staff and students, the more likely you will be to get volunteers and interns. In many cases, decisions about volunteer work and internships are made early in the school year. (Note: You may find that some internships were matched with nonprofit organizations last spring.)
A Final Thought
Sometimes nonprofit people resist the idea of working with students. "Why bother?" they ask. "They'll be gone in nine months!"
Student interns and volunteers may come and go. But their schools and school organizations are usually more stable. If your organization forges a good relationship with your volunteers'/intern's school this year, that school may become a reliable source of student support for years to come.