Digital Outreach

Have a nonprofit intern? 5 assignments to benefit you and your intern


It’s likely that as the holiday season draws nearer and the pressure to bring in donors’ gifts is getting hefty, you could use the help of an intern. This is a great idea in theory, but simply having someone come in and make coffee runs or manage mundane tasks won’t benefit your nonprofit in the long run and may actually hurt it. You want to make the most of the internship for both your intern and your nonprofit.

Consider this: you could have an intern that takes care of a lot of your day-to-day tasks about which you just don’t want to worry. They leave the internship with something on their resume, but they also didn’t learn that much about the nonprofit world and don’t feel grateful for the opportunity. That’s one less advocate for your nonprofit or one less potential donor / volunteer down the road.

Alternatively, you take on an intern and invest an initial amount of time into planning out their internship and acclimating them into your nonprofit and they leave with a huge amount of gratitude for your organization. They may even be in a position where they could step right into a real role on your team.

5 tasks to complete with your nonprofit intern

1. Give them your nonprofit’s story

I have been thrown into a couple of internships with a long list of to-do’s and no context for why these are being done. More specifically, the organizations didn’t tell me why they do what they do or take time to explain their process.

If you don’t take the time to sit down with your intern and explain your nonprofit’s purpose and / or what you hope to achieve by hiring them as an intern, it will be difficult for them to see their value at your nonprofit or leave feeling like your nonprofit is of value to them.

Talking more with your intern will also benefit them if they are asked to partake in blog writing, events or outreach. They will better be able to articulate aspects of your nonprofit in a way you would yourself.

2. Integrate them into the team

If you have your intern jump right in on the first day without introducing them to your team, it’s more likely your team won’t integrate with the intern. Point out who is responsible for what and how the intern might be able to work with any of those roles. Ask your team if they are willing to step in and help the intern when need be.

The intern will leave their position feeling like they were really a part of something and with a list of connections. Plus your employees could gain fresh ideas by working with the intern.

3. Have them review your copy

There’s nothing like a set a fresh, recently-graduated eyes to review your content. Have them assess your blog, social media, grant proposals and other website copy. If your intern is a strong writer, ask that they contribute to these areas as well.

4. Finalize a project that’s been on your back burner

We all have those wishlist to-do’s we never have time to tackle. Determine your intern’s strong suits and if any of those fit your wishlist item, have them take it on. Just be sure to allocate enough time in your own schedule to give feedback and review their work.

5. Create a valuable piece of content

Your intern is coming fresh off the press of college education plus is of the generation that is tech-savvy. Assign them to creating an ebook or infographic on your organization. This will help them learn more about your nonprofit, challenge themselves to use digital tools, and leave you with a nice new piece of content to work with on your website.