Charities should encourage schoolchildren to give, inquiry hears

Richard Harrison, director of research at the Charities Aid Foundation, says schools are the key to encouraging young people to interact with charity

Charities should become more involved with teachers and schools in order to encourage more young people to give, panel members of the Charities Aid Foundation’s inquiry into charitable giving heard yesterday.

The panel, which is chaired by David Blunkett, Home Secretary in the last Labour government and MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, held its first evidence session in parliament yesterday. It focused on how charities can encourage more young people to give.

Richard Harrison, director of research at CAF, said schools were key to getting young people involved in charities.

Harrison said that after the publication of CAF’s report Mind the Gap, which showed that giving had been declining among younger generations, CAF had decided to focus its attention on young people and how they interacted with charity.

He said that if the commercial sector saw a decline in involvement by young people it would try to do something about it, and charities should do the same. "Large companies would say you need to be most careful about sealing your history with those at the beginning of being involved," Harrison said.

He said that another CAF report on how under-18s interacted with charities, Growing Up Giving, found that, after television, school was the place young people were most likely to hear about charities. 

"The key thing we might do next is to look at what opportunities there are to further enhance the state of play between schools and charities," he said.

Ellie Miles, a Year 13 pupil at Queen Elizabeth’s Girls’ School in Barnet, north London, told the session that including information about charities in lessons would better educate young people and encourage them to give.

"I think something that is lacking in schools and the education system is the encouragement to learn about charities and the reasons people need to give," she said.

Miles said more could be done to include charities in lessons in order to raise their profile with young people.

Chris Weavers, principal officer of the teachers union the NASUWT, said charities could work with schools to create lesson plans that referenced charities.

"There are lots of examples of charities that work closely with teachers to develop stimulating and engaging lesson plans – meeting the national curriculum but including a charitable element both through raising awareness and potentially fundraising within the school context," he said. "I would suggest working with teachers to make sure this is useful in the classroom."

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