Nonprofit organizations are key to the economic vitality, stability and health of a community. A new Georgia Gwinnett College initiative will pair students with area nonprofits to gain insight, build interest and enhance their options to enter nonprofit careers.
GGC’s Nonprofit Internship Program will offer juniors and seniors semester-long paid internship opportunities in Gwinnett County and the greater Atlanta area. Students who meet program qualifications will work up to 25 hours a week and will be paid up to $20 an hour, which officials say will spur interest, provide invaluable experiences, and contribute to their financial stability.
“Internships are valuable, high-impact, learning opportunities for our students,” said GGC president, Dr. Jann L. Joseph. “Our students want to make a meaningful impact and this program will allow them to use the skills they learned in the classroom to succeed in nonprofit organizations and give back to their communities.”
In collaboration with the Community Foundation for Northeast Georgia, a multiple donor fund was created to support the pilot program. The fund includes a grant by the Community Foundation and additional donors totaling $210,000. Randy Redner, immediate past president and CEO of the Community Foundation, said the initiative will help bolster the nonprofit workforce that was reduced during the pandemic.
“In 2020, when the U.S. needed nonprofits the most, we lost a million people out of the nonprofit sector,” Redner said. “Our workforce reduced by 10 percent. Just like every other sector in America, we are attempting to recover.”
Respondents in a 2021 survey by the National Council of Nonprofits reported significant levels of job vacancies, some up to 50%.
DePriest Waddy, who succeeded Redner as CEO of the Community Foundation in June, said that although the non-profit sector experienced a downturn in recent years, the pre-pandemic rise of nonprofits suggests future growth with valuable work experiences in a variety of fields.
“When people think of nonprofit careers, they typically think of fundraising,” Waddy said. “While fundraising is an integral part of the nonprofit space, these organizations equally rely on professionals in myriad areas such as IT, communications and marketing, HR, legal, business and operations and more.”
A 2020 report by the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies revealed an upward trend in nonprofit employment pre-pandemic. Nonprofit jobs in the U.S. saw an 18.6% increase between 2007 to 2017 as opposed to a 6.2% increase in for-profit jobs during that same time period. According to the report, U.S. nonprofits employed 12.5 million people in that 10-year span, making it the country’s third-largest workforce.
In Georgia, nonprofit employment growth bucked the national trend from 2007 to 2017, increasing 28.6 percent. That increase positioned Georgia among the top 10 states with the highest growth in nonprofit employment.
GGC officials said the first cohort of students will begin their internships in the spring 2023 semester. Meanwhile, they are encouraging Gwinnett and Atlanta area nonprofits who would like to host GGC student interns to express their interest at the Survey Link on GGC’s Career Services webpage or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.