Maya Miller, AmeriCorps VISTA
Build your nonprofit’s future by engaging the next generation of volunteers, employees, board members, and donors in your mission. Beyond cultivating great relationships in the short term, partnerships with campuses and students can be a great way to introduce young Montanans to a lifetime of service and nonprofit work. Campus partnerships not only inspire the next generation of leaders, they also allow local communities to reap the benefits of volunteer service. Volunteer students have the ability to enhance existing efforts at any nonprofit.
In Montana, opportunities to partner are growing rapidly. With recent changes to university curriculum standards, academic service learning is making its way to the fore-front of higher education best practices. Academic service learning is a specific type of service learning that includes a credit bearing aspect. This form of learning provides professional development skills for students in addition to allowing time to work on structured reflections for a short or long period of time instead of typical coursework.While this type of partnership is a great goal for any organization, there are many ways to begin building relationships with campuses that are less intensive.
So, whether you have the capacity to host students in academic service learning partnerships or just want to start a relationship, now’s the time to start preparing for the fall semester. Here are three ways your organization can start a new or continue an existing relationship with a local campus:
1. Take Part in a Career Fair
Career fairs are on campus events where recruiters provide information to students.
Why participate in a career fair? They are a great way to introduce incoming students to your nonprofit. Freshman may be from out of town, or have not yet been exposed to service. Career fairs allow students to get more information regarding a career at a nonprofit. This may influence the student to become more engaged in nonprofit and service work during their time in college.
What do I need to do to prepare? Attending a career fair or an event at freshman orientation requires planning ahead and preparing content to share with students. Your organization will need to create resources to follow up with the students that want to get involved.
2. Speak at a Career or Student Panel
Career or Student panels allow experienced individuals to speak about their experience or give advice to others regarding a particular field.
Why participate in a panel? Career and student panels are a great way to introduce students to the nonprofit world. Some students may already be interested and have lots of questions to ask, while others may be learning about career options in the nonprofit organizations for the first time.
What do I need to do to prepare? Panels tend to be specific to academic fields. Make sure to contact the correct office or department staff to inquire about upcoming student panels. If the campus is not hosting a student panel, inquire about hosting your own nonprofit panel and create content to share with interested students.
3. Form a partnership with a Student Group
Student groups are organized and led by students with a focus on a common interest.
Why partner with student groups? Student clubs are formed by individuals passionate in certain areas. These extra-curricular participants are always enthusiastic and can provide a much-needed boost to any organization. Partnerships can range from one-time service opportunities to more in-depth skills based relationships.
What do I need to do to prepare? When contacting student groups or clubs, make sure to contact the correct student leader. Student groups and clubs can be more challenging to get in contact with due to the nature of being a busy college student. Reach out to multiple student leaders or look to find a faculty member that is connected to the club.
Ready to get started? Each link brings you to the campus website containing dates, contact information, and prices.
- University of Montana | Missoula
- MSU Bozeman
- MSU Billings
- Carroll College | Helena
- Flathead Valley Community College | Kalispell
Have questions or ideas? Contact [email protected] to learn more and share your experience.