Colleges urged to do more to help students get involved with charities

Richard Harrison of the Charities Aid Foundation says the first strand of its inquiry shows the importance of stronger engagement with young people

Richard Harrison
Richard Harrison

Colleges and universities should do more to help students engage with charities, according to new research compiled by the Charities Aid Foundation.

A summary report from the first strand of CAF’s Growing Giving Parliamentary Inquiry, published today, looks at how young people get involved with charities.

The report includes a selection of submissions from individuals and organisations. Several respondents said more should be done to improve the infrastructure and support given to students in further and higher education to help them work more closely with charities.

A response from Stephanie Drummond, student fundraising coordinator at the Children’s Society, says university courses or academic departments could run compulsory placements in charities so that students could form a connection with charities and the wider sector. She says accreditation schemes could be set up to reward young people for their voluntary work.

The young people’s volunteering charity vInspired says in its response that Ucas points should be given to university applicants for having completed a placement on the National Citizen Service and other volunteering activities. This would act as an incentive to young people applying for further and higher education providers to encourage student involvement in giving, the charity says. 

Leon Ward, a trustee of Interact Worldwide and Plan UK, says in his response that universities should provide support for students to volunteer.

"Charities need to have confidence in young people and to understand the benefits they can bring to an organisation," says Ward.

The inquiry also examined how young people could be encouraged to become charity trustees, how young people could make a lifetime connection with charity through volunteering, work placements and social action, how young people could engage with charities in a digital age and how policymakers and influencers can make sure giving is fit for the digital age.

VInspired says in its response that charities should promote trusteeship as a progression for young people who already volunteer, campaign or fundraise for them.

There are two more strands of the inquiry into the gap in generational giving, which is chaired by David Blunkett, Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough and former Home Secretary. The summary will be used to inform a more detailed report and recommendations, due to be published in early 2014, CAF said.

Richard Harrison, director of research at CAF, said: "It’s great to see that colleges and universities are already doing so much to help students get involved with charity work. For many students, fundraising, charity and rag societies are a highlight of university life, allowing them to have fun while engaging with charitable causes.

"However, we also know that there is a generation gap in giving, so it is important that we examine how we can further engage young people and help them form a lifetime connection with charities. It’s fantastic to see from the first strand of the inquiry that there is such a wealth of ideas on how colleges and universities could be doing this better." 

The second strand of the inquiry will look at giving in the workplace – CAF will be collecting evidence from 13 June.

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