Nonprofit causes may be the only place where interns can gain experience in a tight labor market.
Over the last several years both the DOL (US Department of Labor) and private litigation have nearly shut down the opportunity for unpaid internships as a training method for many positions where experience is considered critical even to land an entry level position.
For-profit companies deciding how many paid internships to offer have to take into account not just the low productivity of an intern during training, but also the loss of productivity for all those supervising the interns.
The DOL does however allow for interns working at nonprofits to be unpaid (for the time being). A similar waiver covers volunteerism.
“The FLSA makes a special exception under certain circumstances for individuals who volunteer to perform services for a state or local government agency and for individuals who volunteer for humanitarian purposes for private non-profit food banks. WHD also recognizes an exception for individuals who volunteer their time, freely and without anticipation of compensation for religious, charitable, civic, or humanitarian purposes to non-profit organizations. Unpaid internships in the public sector and for non-profit charitable organizations, where the intern volunteers without expectation of compensation, are generally permissible. WHD is reviewing the need for additional guidance on internships in the public and non-profit sectors.”
Perhaps the nonprofit causes should take advantage of the glut of under-employed recent graduates.