Kidz for Change | June 15 2016
Families, wanting to engage their children in the joy of giving to others, to translate charity from a faceless ‘collection box’ to a personal, engaging, empowering experience, came to participate in the first GenGive event.
Over £4,000 was raised in total in a mere 30 minutes, with children bidding in as little as £5 increments with their pocket money although the focus of the event was awakening and igniting our social conscience rather than fundraising.
“It felt like there was a room of people that all had a good heart and wanted to make the world a better place” – Aryan, aged 10
“It made me feel so good about myself” – Diya, aged 8
“The buzz in the room was palpable. I loved it. ” – Rohan, aged 17
The charities were The Lightyear Foundation, supporting young people with learning disabilities via sensory science, Pulse Arts making music on children’s wards to reduce patient anxiety and stress and FirstGive who enable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to win grants for their community by advocating for charities that they care about in a school public-speaking competition.
This was an unusual event came about because of three very special experiences. The first was I went to my first live charity crowdfunding event hosted by TFN and absolutely loved it. Attendees hear a five minute pitch from three different charities and then get a chance to ask questions and donate their time, interest, skills or money. I loved being up – close and personal with the dynamic individuals that were driving innovative, exciting solutions to support others and being part of that community, giving with others. It was engaging, it was fun it was joyous.
Secondly, on the front page of the children’s newspaper we get, was a picture of the Refugee crisis. I was talking with my daughter and nephew about how lucky we were, how privileged we are and how we have a duty and responsibility to help – all of which is true, but as the words came out of my mouth, I thought how un-compelling a proposition this was for a child. And that I was somehow positioning us as “up here” and refugees as “down there”, and that tomorrow our conversation would be forgotten as we went back to our daily lives. Wouldn’t it be great if they could have experienced the joy of the TFN event to shift that responsibility from their head, to their heart?
Thirdly, someone close to me recently had a landmark birthday. He chose to celebrate by giving some money to a number of children with a note to use that money to experience the joy of giving to others and to engage with charity in some way. He shared with me his thinking – your birthday is one day, when it’s all about you, when you think what can I get, what do I want? But if we can shift that thinking from “what can I get?” to , “what can I give?”, If we can teach our children this when they are young, what a head start we will give them in life, and in being happy? What parent doesn’t want that?
So these three things came together, and the idea of GenGive was born. The event started with an informal opportunity for the children to interact with the representatives of each of the three charities, and then in a format similar to the TV programme ‘Dragon’s Den’ the three charities gave short child-friendly pitches to the group explaining what they do, how they help people and how any money donated to them would be used. For example, Pulse Arts would use the money to enable them to go into a children’s hospital in Essex where they would be able to play live music on wards to help support ill children. Lightyear explained how they would use the money to go into schools and create fun science session which in particular can have a very powerful impact on children with learning dif culties who struggle with traditional teaching methods. The third charity, FirstGive’s representative explained how the money donated to this organisation would mean more disadvantaged children would have the opportunity to learn vital skills like making professional phone calls and how to connect with charities.
Once the pitches were done the children had the chance to decide where they wanted their money to go and put their hands up and pledge it in front of the whole group. The room was filled with energy and excitement and as well as raising money for some incredible causes the children walked away with the precious experience of actually connecting with the inspiring people behind the charities.