AHP Connect Articles

AHP Connect delivers updates on industry news and research, educational and professional opportunities, best practices and other articles related to health care philanthropy.

Internship programs: A win-win in tough economic times

Rachel Ray
Published:  08/05/2010

Rachel Ray, development coordinator, communications & donor relations, Oakwood Healthcare Foundation

Originally published in the September 8, 2010 AHP Connect

In these tough economic times, internships can be an inexpensive way to increase productivity and a valuable recruitment tool for your organization. Almost 90 percent of employers say they are very satisfied with their interns and that they extend job offers to almost 70 percent of them.

Here are some key questions and answers about using an internship program as a recruitment tool and to increase productivity in your office.

How will my organization benefit?

Securing support from executives to add a position is not an easy task, but here are some benefits to help your case:

  • One of the primary benefits of hiring interns is employee recruitment and retention. You could find someone who is an asset to your team and fits your organizational culture. Hiring a new employee costs an organization an average of $2,658, so if you are able to keep your intern as an employee, you can potentially save the cost of recruiting someone new. Furthermore, your intern has already gone through the orientation stage and is familiar with your organizational structure.
  • Interns can help (inexpensively) bridge the gap between missing staff members.
  • Interns who become full-time hires are more likely to stay with your organization than
  • their co-workers who did not go through the internship program.
  • Hiring interns is cost-effective, as they can be assigned non-core tasks, giving gift officers more time to focus on raising funds.

Is my department ready for an intern?

Having an intern undoubtedly affects the whole office. Not only are you changing the dynamics of your team, but you are also adding someone who will need a considerable amount of coaching from the entire staff. Before you hire an intern, make sure your staff is stable enough and willing to take on the challenge of setting aside time to teach your intern. Ensure that your staff knows that while interns can be used for assistance in smaller projects, they are not there to do solely support work and need to learn fundraising tactics as well. The most successful internship program will be valuable for both your organization and the intern.

What level should the candidate be?

When hiring an intern, look for someone who has recently graduated from college or is graduating in the upcoming year. If you are using your internship program as a recruitment tool, you want someone who either has a degree or is very close to receiving one. Also, because of confidentiality and professional concerns with donors, allies and executives, it is better for the candidate to be of a certain maturity level.

What should the format of the internship be like?

There are multiple ways to structure an internship. It could be a general overview of all roles in your office or a streamlined, in-depth look at one aspect of professional philanthropy. Here is a short list of desired projects for an intern to complete:

  • Write a grant for submission.
  • Create an event plan (fundraising, cultivation and stewardship).
  • Complete a defined number of prospect research profiles.
  • Provide experience in the major gift process, including making a discovery call, cultivating a prospect, writing a proposal, participating in a solicitation and creating a stewardship plan.
  • Write an annual appeal letter and define the timeline and plan for implementation.
  • Observe an array of organization, department and committee meetings.

It is helpful to include didactic sessions to increase the intern's knowledge, skills and overall competencies. Like any other position, setting clear performance standards will help ensure that the intern understands what is expected of him/her. Create a performance appraisal to define expectations and share it with the intern during the first week.

A good, solid internship program can benefit your organization in many ways. Not only are you contributing to the educational advancement of young professionals in the development industry, you are creating a valuable recruitment tool for your organization. There are many variables to creating an internship, but if you utilize it correctly you may acquire some successful, loyal new employees, while simultaneously increasing the productivity and morale of your current staff.

NEWS  /02/27/19
We need to invest in the people working for nonprofits and their success the way the for-profit sector does.
NEWS  /02/16/17
In the spring 2017 issue of Healthcare Philanthropy, I explored Montage Health’s employee giving campaign and possible best practices in “You Want Me to Give You Money, Too?”
NEWS  /10/23/15
The following article is based on an AHP webinar presented by Heather Procaccino, CFRE, director of development and major gifts at St. Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa.

Meet The Author

Rachel Ray
Development coordinator, communications & donor relations
Oakwood Healthcare Foundation

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