How would you define philanthropy? My suggestion would be supporting others by donating to good causes. Now think how you would pitch that concept to a teenager or young adult? You might think it would be more of a challenge, particularly when you’re convincing generation ‘why bother’ that they should do something for nothing.
The reality, for the 40,000 young people we’ve worked with since 2007, is surprising and encouraging. Pupils at schools who have signed-up to the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) select a local charity based on who best addresses their chosen issue. This gives them an immediate sense of ownership as they see how their actions have a positive impact in the wider community.
Working with charity staff and fundraisers, groups of pupils prepare presentations for a judging panel with the best team winning a £3,000 donation for their charity. So there is something in it for them after all! More than that, they immediately see how their efforts reward others in a way many of them couldn’t have comprehended before they embarked on the process.
And it doesn’t stop there. By raising awareness of the good money can do, the YPI is creating a generation of passionate and committed philanthropists by providing them with a ‘real life’ experience of giving. If they can see past the £ signs and appreciate the value of the money in their pocket, they’re more likely to think of others before themselves, now and in the future.
Tonight, we’re celebrating everything we’ve achieved to date with a special ‘thank you’ event in central London. Matthew Taylor, CEO of the RSA and Olivia Giles, founder and CEO of 500 Miles, will be there to welcome previous programme participants and representatives of the 220 charities they’ve helped. Thanks to an award from the Social Action Fund (SAF) in June, we’ll be expanding the programme to the Midlands and North West later this year so we can help more young people support more charities.
What is in it for fundraisers?
As fundraisers, the YPI is a fantastic opportunity for your charity to build a relationship with a young person that could last a lifetime. The first thing you should do is find out which schools in your area have signed up to the YPI programme and make sure they know where you are and who you help. Think about what your charity does and how you can make it relevant to young people. If you haven’t visited local schools before, this is the perfect time to make contact with headteachers and get them enthused about what you do.
It’s a bold ambition but if we all work together – young people, teachers and charities – we’re sure our collective enthusiasm can make a big difference. To find out more about how you can get involved visit
Alex Reynolds, Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) Director, joined the YPI in August 2009. Before that he was Education Advisor at CABE (The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) where he designed and developed ‘Green Day', an event about climate change for schools, which involves 100,000 pupils across the country annually. Prior to CABE, Alex was head of Humanities and later Director of Studies of the Oporto British School in Portugal. Alex was part of the inaugural cohort of TeachFirst and taught Geography for two years at the West London Academy.