Giving Nation to close having inspired a million youth volunteer hours

Giving Nation website to close after 14 years having inspired a generation

The UK has a thriving civil society and it needs protecting. So back in 2001, then-Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, decided that a national initiative was needed to raise awareness of the role and function of civil society organisations including charities, volunteer hubs and social enterprises. The Giving Campaign was created.

In 2002 there was an offshoot developed that was specifically aimed at inspiring society’s youngest citizens to see themselves as ‘givers’. So began Giving Nation, which shortly afterwards moved to Young Citizens as there were obvious connections between the ambitions of this initiative and our expertise and extensive teacher network.

Initially a teachers’ pack was created to provide teachers with free lesson plans and activities for secondary school students to understand the purpose of charities; how they work with government and other sectors; the variety the societal issues they address; and even how donations are typically used. These resources were free, but teachers had to request the materials. By 2005, when over 80% of UK secondary schools had requested their ‘G-Pack’, we realised teachers needed more ideas and support.

With the backing of the Cabinet Office we launched a new active citizenship component entitled Giving Nation Challenge in 2005. This project loaned small grants to young people (£50 per class) for them to create a short-lived project addressing an issue in their community. So successful was this work that we expanded our work to reach even more students with the development of specialist resources for students with additional needs in SEN/BD schools, thanks to support from Santander.

Through identifying the issue and following a ‘plan, do, review cycle’ students realised they had the knowledge and skills to make a difference in their community. By choosing to raise funds, promote awareness or take direct action young people could see themselves as agents of change. With each class across a year group choosing different causes to support, the school community reflected wider civil society as they sought to influence the hearts, minds and attention of others.

“I’m extremely honoured to have supporting the creation and growth of this fabulous educational experience that touched the lives of so many young people, project beneficiaries and charities. It’s humbling to think that for every £1 we entrusted to a young person they raised £5 for charity and volunteered four hours outside of their classroom.” Richard John, Director.

Giving Impact

  • 1,000+ mainstream and SEN/BD secondary schools
  • 10,000+ teachers provided resources and training
  • 350,000+ young people
  • £1.7m raised for over 3,800 good causes
  • 1.6m extra-curricular youth volunteer hours

Young Citizens is proud of the profound impact the Giving Nation project has had across the UK.

We continue to champion social action

Although Giving Nation has now come to an end, Young Citizens’ commitment to providing young people with opportunities to become active citizens continues. Earlier this year we launched a CPD-certified online training to introduce primary teachers to social action. We also received funding from the #iwill Campaign and the Pears Foundation to support even more teachers to join a national movement of schools supporting youth social action through the Make a Difference Challenge.

We are also encouraging secondary school teachers to sign up to the Circle of Life project so they can use Disney’s THE LION KING to inspire young people to see themselves as community leaders.