Schools and universities 'are the best places to teach young people about giving'

Joe Saxton of nfpSynergy tells giving inquiry that rising giving rates among young people are down to school activities such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards and citizenship classes

Joe Saxton
Joe Saxton

Schools and universities are the most effective places to teach young people about the importance of giving time and money, the Charities Aid Foundation’s parliamentary inquiry on Growing Giving heard this morning.

Joe Saxton, co-founder of the research consultancy nfpSynergy, was speaking at the House of Commons today at the final session of the inquiry, which is chaired by David Blunkett, the former Home Secretary and Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough.

Responding to the question of how families can pass on "the gift of giving" to the next generation, he said: "I’m not sure the family is the right unit to look at in terms of passing on giving."

He said that while some wealthy families passed on giving from generation to generation, often through charitable trusts, it was different from saying to a teenager "you should give because we give".

"A much more effective route for getting young people to give is reaching them at school and university," he said.

Saxton said research showed that the proportion of young people who volunteered had doubled from 14 per cent to 28 per cent over the past decade.

The reason for the increase was centred around school activities, such as Duke of Edinburgh Awards and citizenship classes, and more young people wanting to go to university, he said.

Young people were taking a "selfish approach" to volunteering because they knew it would help their applications to stand out, he said.

If parents wanted to encourage young people to give, they should use subtle messages showing how they gave time and money, but should not "ram it down their throats", Saxton said.

He added: "More people going to university is the single biggest thing that is going to drive up giving of time and money." 

The inquiry is due to publish a report about its findings early in the new year.

Jenna Pudelek

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