A SMALL SILVER LINING IN THE ECONOMIC CLOUDHello everyone.
"And the beat goes on......................."
HELP JUST FOR THE ASKING?
With budget downsizing, layoffs and less money coming in from all sources, what can the average arts organization do to get staff help in fundraising, event planning, marketing, media relations, volunteer coordination and all the other things that simply have to get done?
The bad economic situation may actually be providing at least a temporary answer -- qualified interns. More and more recent college graduates are actively seeking nonprofit internships because in the current job market there are no jobs to be had. Internships give them practical experience and something to put on their resumes that will help them distinguish their experience (and commitment to a chosen field (e.g. marketing, finance, etc.). Any number of experts are advising college graduates (and even displaced workers)to consider an intership as a smart (temporary) move.
An increasing number of nonprofits are finding that they are getting huge responses to ads on craigslist and other places for interns - including non-paid positions -- even ones demanding six month minimum commitments. The key to attracting superior talent to these positions is to offer real training and oversight as well as meaningful decision making authority. If all you are looking for is someone to file papers and stuff envelopes, you aren't likely to get anyone who can really help you. But if you can allocate senior management time to oversee such a program and offer mentorship and skills training so that the experience is seen as serious professional development, there has never been a better opportunity to attract truly talented and often time surprisingly well qualified people in fields as diverse as website design and management, to marketing and public relations, to finance and accounting.
Need help in your understaffed (or nonexistent) marketing department? Is your finance department (or finance person) overwhelmed? Do you just not have the time right now to begin to create next year's budget? Want to boost the percentage of twenty somethings in your audience? Want to get some media coverage with that same segment? Want to increase awareness of your organization and raise money from the young professionals crowd?
Why not recruit two or three recent communications department (or other departments - e.g. business / finance etc.) new college grads as unpaid (or minimally paid) interns, for a defined time period (say, four to six months), and then after a quick orientation and tutorial in your organization and the nonprofit arts sector, turn that mini team loose to work on a series of predetermined objectives you and the team mutually arrive at (e.g., raise $20,000 from the under 35 crowd. Or get ten articles in local papers, magazines or on local television about the organization. Or draft a detailed budget for next year including cost cutting options. There are doubtless a score of things you would like to have done, but can't do yourself)? No budget? No problem, that is part of their challenge. You meet with them regularly to review what they are doing, offer suggestions and direction and monitor their progress. You stand to get unbridled energy and enthusism, out-of-the-box thinking and entrepreneurialship, and just maybe achieve some results that have been eluding you. You also get one or more people who will care about your organization and go out into the community and spread goodwill. You might even get a future permanent employee. They get the opportunity for some practical, real world experience, real decision making authority, and, depending on the degree of their success, an excellent addition to their resume and a terrific recommendation from you to prospective employers. They also get the chance to do some meaningful work and help with a good cause. Win / Win. No?
But this opportunity may not last forever. The economy will improve, more jobs will become available, and more workers will then be in demand, and less of them will be interested in working as an intern.
Something you might want to think about anyway.
Links you may want to check out:
Doug McLennan's blog on TEN WAYS TO THINK ABOUT SOCIAL NETWORKING AND THE ARTS: www.artsjournal.com/diacritical/2009/05/power-in-numbers-there-ought.html
SEATTLE AFTA CONFERENCE LINK: www.americansforthearts.org/Events/2009/convention/default.asp
Have a good week.