Student nonprofits: Volunteer work or resume boosters?


Lindsey Rodman

Opinion Editor Brianna Tang writes that volunteering with existing organizations is a much better way to make an impact on communities than starting nonprofits.

Brianna Tang, Opinion Editor

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, I have noticed a surge of student nonprofits requesting to follow me on Instagram. There have been many COVID-related nonprofits such as providing homemade masks, delivering supplies to local hospitals, or posting educational information about the virus, as well as activism pages, and many others.

I have begun to wonder whether student nonprofits actually achieve a substantial impact.”

— Brianna Tang

With the pandemic shutdowns and college application season, it’s obvious that starting a nonprofit is a way to show initiative to colleges, while simultaneously helping the community to get community service hours in a time where some extracurriculars are no longer offered. However, with so many student organizations claiming to pursue similar, if not identical causes, I have begun to wonder whether student nonprofits actually achieve a substantial impact.

Compared to volunteering at an already existing organization, starting one and having a title like “Founder” or “CEO” in high school may look better on paper and to colleges. However given that the students are only in high school, I sometimes question the credibility of these titles. And while starting a nonprofit in high school definitely provides a learning experience, volunteering with a true intention for helping the community doesn’t require these fancy titles.

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With increasingly competitive college admissions, I think it has almost become a pressure amongst high school students to show their “initiative” on paper through these titles. Even if some of these nonprofits are forgotten about once the students are admitted to colleges. 

That being said, I still see how the experience that comes from starting and running an organization is important, along with the impact of volunteer work. In the end, they are all for the benefit of the community. However, volunteering for an existing organization or doing the volunteer work without the titles or resume boosters will provide the same impact.