After doing all the research and weighing all of your options, college students may seem like a great idea to add to your organization. While this may be true there are some issues to address.
While nonprofits seem to be doing a great job at recruiting college students and college graduates, college students are not always looking to stay. In fact, a report by the Washington Post shows that many college students leave their nonprofit jobs for private companies that often pay better and offer a more comfortable lifestyle. Many college students don’t yet have a family or career when they start volunteering for organizations while in school. Post-graduation their lives and lifestyles begin to change and other things such as a family begin demanding their time.
The study also showed that workers who took part in the survey were interested in leading a nonprofit, but felt they lacked the skills and training to do so. Many also indicated they felt overwhelmed with long hours and demanding responsibilities. They also indicated feeling underpaid.
So how can we fix this? The hiring process will vary from organization to organization but it’s important to have plan. If you really like a college student volunteer or employee and want them to remain after graduation, James Vergotz offers some tips on how to keep your volunteer coming back. First, Vergotz says to tap into the volunteer’s motives. Next he says to “explain your expectations to the nonprofit volunteers at the outset.” Third, Vergotz says to , “make sure volunteering is not burdensome and to make volunteering fun.” Finally, Vergotz says to “show the love” and make sure the volunteer knows they are appreciated and they are making a difference. Obviously, following all of these steps cannot ensure volunteers stay, but it certainly helps the cause.
The economic downturn may also aid in keeping college students at your organization longer. More recent reports show that recent graduates are turning to longer volunteer opportunities because of the competitive job market and economic climate.
There’s no sure way to keep a volunteer after they graduate, but doing things to make them feel welcomed, needed, and appreciated help. By building a good relationship with your college student volunteers, you can build your program and find future donors and volunteers through them. Even if you know they’re only available to help your organization for a short period of time, utilize their talents while you have them. Never turn a college student away because you’re afraid they can’t help long. Remember, there’s always a new generation of college students coming in.