I was at a brilliant event last Monday and if you haven’t heard about it you should look it up. The Youth Philanthropy Initiative is a fantastic idea to “create the next generation of socially engaged citizens”.
The Initiative is run in the UK by the Institute of Philanthropy. It works through secondary schools. Kids are asked to identify a local need; to find other members of their class that think the same way; to find a local charity that addresses that need and then to present that charity to their class mates. The winners go through to a school final that is judged by judges from outside the school and the winner of that wins £3,000 for their chosen charity and the right to attend the winners party that I had the privilege to attend at the Porchester Hall (what a fantastic Victorian interior) last week.
This sounds like a great idea but to see and feel the enthusiasm and delight on Monday night was truly infectious. The kids were so proud of their achievements and so excited at the red carpet treatment that they received that the hall was a total buzz of energy and joy. The teachers all spoke about the team working and confidence that the programme gave to the children whilst the charity representatives spoke about initial scepticism on the value of the scheme giving way to total conviction as the kids work with them over time to understand the charity’s wants and needs. Many of the charities I spoke to were keen to keep the dialogue with the kids that the Initiative had started as it was bringing them energy and voice in a way that they had not received before.
Who knows what the long term impact on the children in terms of engagement with society will be but it did set me thinking about our role in society and what is the right balance between give and take. We are simple builders not philosophers but we do have a set of values that underlies the business. Those values include fairness, integrity and commitment. The advice that we give has to be independent and reliable. We cannot accept the tempting opportunities to recommend particular solutions as once our message is compromised the value is destroyed. Likewise the value of the advice must be fair and not determined by short term opportunism. Our business is built around customer relations and those need to be long term focused not short term.
The kids on the YPI have been doing great things for others whilst having a great time themselves. I guess that is why being part of the evening was such good fun.
With particular thanks to the Green School in Isleworth who let me join their table – a very welcoming and intelligent bunch of young ladies.
If you want to know more about this initiative click here.
Charlie Laing Project Management