How to Find Interns For Your Nonprofit

How to Hire Interns For Your NonprofitRecruiting outstanding team members is always a challenge, but there are a few obstacles unique to a nonprofit organization that make hiring interns a little trickier.  For one, cultural fit becomes tantamount when business operations follow a single mission statement. Whether your work provides affordable housing to a local community or promotes the performing arts in elementary school auditoriums, its success depends on the passion and dedication of your employees. For another, the limited budget of a nonprofit makes it harder to compete against larger companies for talent. Nonprofits can navigate these challenges, however, to find the best candidates.

When writing a job description, let your organization’s vision take center stage. Be clear about what values guide your business practices. Lead the post with something simple that describes what you do and how you do it. Insert links to documented examples of your success online so that potential applicants see your impact—and how they fit in.

Use social media as a bullhorn to attract great candidates. Despite limited funds available for recruitment, nonprofits have the capacity to build large and loyal followings across Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn. NPR had such success with social media recruitment, in fact, that the Senior Director of Talent Acquisition & Innovation hosted a #NPRTwitterChat with Twitter’s @JoinTheFlock.

Maintain a strong presence on nearby college campuses by reaching out to related student organizations. This can entail anything from mailing a box of schwag, supplies, and literature; to sending a campus representative to facilitate a brainstorming session; to sponsoring a campus event. These kinds of collaborations also keep the proverbial phone line open for internship and entry-level job openings.

Build a volunteer program that doubles as a pipeline for your intern and entry-level positions. While hiring five paid interns may be a strain, recruiting one or two promises major benefits for your nonprofit. Many students would be more than willing to volunteer their time for a cause they believe in—possible roles include on-site workers, photographers, booth workers, and street team members. A volunteer program also has the likelihood of surfacing great candidates for more permanent positions.

What have your experiences been with recruiting for nonprofit organizations? Chime in with ideas and suggestions in the comments, or @IMemployers.

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Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.