Cash-strapped charities are looking to the future by trying to attract the next generation of donors. But for now, involving the young is more important than the cash they contribute.
Communal organisations devote increasing resources to engaging those aged between 20 and 35. Norwood chief executive Elaine Kerr believes “the key thing is get awareness among young professionals of what we do and the services we have — that’s priceless”.
Since the learning disabilities and families charity founded its 24-member Young Norwood Consultative Committee, there has been a rise in creative events to complement the more lucrative traditional dinners.
“The young committee is not there for fundraising but to develop our future strategy,” Ms Kerr explained.
“We’ve opened our books to them. They look at us from an external perspective and challenge us on areas we should be expanding and how to engage with younger people.
“A lot of them haven’t traditionally been involved in Norwood — we selected them with the knowledge of who was out there. These are a group of lawyers, doctors, accountants and people involved in media who are going to get to the top of their fields. We are hopeful that some will stay involved in the future.”
Young Norwood supporters raised more than £400,000 in 2012 through events ranging from a Sri Lankan bike ride to abseiling down a London landmark.
Ms Kerr also emphasised the value of young volunteers. “We’ve opened up our staff training to volunteers, from event management to corporate roles in head office.
“A lot of young people are looking to get on the work ladder and build up their experience. We gain a talented young workforce and they build up their CV as we give them references.”
Led by a team of 85 in eight committees, Young Jewish Care raises around £150,000 annually for the welfare charity.
Chairman Steven Altman-Richer, 26, said it organised “many innovative events to attract new and different people. Some people are able to give more money than time and some people more time than money.”
YJC involvement varies from members donating a proportion of salary to volunteering at the charity’s Jack Gardner House in Golders Green for young adults with long-term mental health issues.
Mr Altman-Richer said that when organising fundraisers, YJC tried to be different. “We had an event at the Google campus, which was cool. It sold out with a waiting list, so we know that new things do work.”
Jewish Care chief executive Simon Morris said the aim was to provide a framework for charity engagement and potential communal leadership for recent graduates who were “building careers and starting to lay down roots in the community”.
For smaller charities, voluntary initiatives led by young professional supporters can be a lifeline.
At MyIsrael, which assists a variety of Israeli causes, co-founder Danni Franks said: “We don’t have a marketing budget so we do it organically and get people involved in any way they can.”
For example, Emily Jacobs, 24, helped to organise a group of eight friends working in the fashion industry to raise more than £13,000 for MyIsrael’s Forgotten People Fund, aiding the Ethiopian community in Netanya.
“We used all the contacts we could and got as many free clothes, shoes, bags and accessories as possible,” the Edgware resident reported.
“We sold donated Prada bags for £80 and Cos dresses for £6. It was a lot of work but absolutely amazing, exciting and so fulfilling.”
Sophie Green, 27, from St John’s Wood is co-directing an art project to raise money for MyIsrael-supported Misholim, helping children with a wide range of emotional, developmental and neurological disabilities through art therapy.
The project entails selling artistically renovated pieces from a property in Israel and so far has raised £20,000.
“It’s very easy to go to a cocktail or supper party, write out a cheque and leave,” Ms Green said. “But this project was hard work, very hands on and an inspiration for the children it’s raising money for.”
Supporting the Nightingale Hammerson home in Clapham maintains a family link for its Young Business Group co-chair, Timothy Lipton.
“My father is president of the charity and my grandmother was a resident — so it’s always been with us,” the 35-year-old property developer explained.
“People should come and visit the site. The charity does amazing work.”
Nightingale chief executive Leon Smith stressed that “young people really are important to us, not solely for fundraising but because they’re future lay leaders of the charity.
“But the fact that we only deal with the elderly makes it difficult to get young people interested.
“We had a young event with a comedian and they raised around £2,000, if that.
“But never mind the money, it’s the interest that counts.”
At Manchester’s main welfare charity, The Fed, manager Joyce Kahn said: “We are always doing what we can to get young people involved, they’re our future.
“It’s not always about raising money. It’s essential but we also value their time and skills. People don’t always realise how much charities need them.”