3 Reasons Paid Internships Benefit Nonprofits

When looking to hire interns to work at your nonprofit, there are multiple factors that can help determine if your organization wants to offer a paid or unpaid internship. On January 5, 2018, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) “created new guidance for determining whether a worker could be classified as an unpaid intern under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).” The FLSA requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. However, this is not always the case when it comes to interns. Under the FLSA, interns may not be classified as “employees” which puts them in a situation where they don’t receive compensation for their work. With these new rules in place, employers now have more say when implementing unpaid internships.

Internships can provide highly beneficial, sought after opportunities for individuals and organizations alike, especially nonprofits.  Internships give organizations unique ways to observe new talent, promote training and share resources within their community. Often interns can be college students and these internships can allow students and other individuals creative ways to grow in their intended fields, to learn valuable work skills and to develop their resumes for future success. 

As a nonprofit, deciding to offer a paid internship can be a difficult decision to make, however, here are three reasons why a paid internship could be the way to go:

1) An unpaid internship could limit your pool of candidates to choose from, ruling out college students who come from lower and middle-income backgrounds. Not only are these students looking for compensation to pay for a college, they need money for everyday necessities.

2) Since interns tend to work on teams with paid employees, an unpaid internship can affect the work of those paid employees making their work feel less valued.

3) Keep in mind, when assigning projects to an unpaid intern to make sure the work isn’t something they should be compensated for – which could result in wage claims. Offering a paid internship can prevent issues like this from arising.

Bringing on interns is a great way to help those new to the workforce learn what it takes to be successful in the working world while helping nonprofits get special projects completed. Plan ahead and structure your program so that your internship program is a great experience for all those involved.

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07/12/19 2:31 PM

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