Youth and Philanthropy Initiative

A blog post by a YPI Judge

We had an amazing story submitted to us by a YPI team member.  One YPI judge was absolutely blown away by the experience of a YPI Final Presentation:

“In my work I suffer Death by PowerPoint too often to be able to suffer bad presentations even for the best of causes. But today’s presentations were up there with the best I’ve seen.”

We’ve decided to quote the post in full below, which was taken from Dan’s blog:

A tear-stained goody bag
March 15, 2010

One of the first things a sales and marketing person learning to make a presentation is told is ‘let them play with the product, give them something to touch, no matter how intangible your product is’. Now imagine that your ‘product’ is support for pregnant women in prison or maybe a place of love for teenagers with cancer. Or maybe a place of safety for women who have been sold, often as children, into the sex trade – in this country. Now imagine the presenter ‘selling’ these ‘products’ is a 14 year old girl who you would hope that in an ideal world wouldn’t have to hear about some of these issues, let alone be an expert on them.

This evening I was judge for an awards scheme as a representative of the RSA (or the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce to give it its proper name) of which I am a Fellow.  In a nutshell, the Youth and Philanthropy Initiative (YPI) is is a schools-based scheme and an active citizenship programme that raises awareness among young people about philanthropy.

Teams of around six young women at a school in north London had to consider a local issue that they were passionate about seeing helped, then research options and charities, learn about the issue and the charity and then compete with other teams from the same school to win £3,000 for the charity (kindly sponsored by Credit Suisse). Schools all around (as far afield as Canada where this started) are competing and learning together in this way.

The presentations were awesome, with tear jerking appeals including home produced videos, songs, poems and anecdotes about real family interactions with some of the charities. I always take two hankies to such things. I’m glad I did today. As well as the use of performing arts, many of the teams had prepared handouts and goody bags for the judges and these included cookies hand decorated with a key statistic – about how many women are sold to the sex trade. Another team, pitching for a charity that supports pregnant women in prison, packed a goody bag with a child’s milk bottle with a powerful note of key stats inside – some ‘message in a bottle’.

I’m glad we had something tangible to focus on at some points as I found it hard to look straight at the youngsters as they discussed things I was not sure I was equipped to deal with, let alone judge on.

I see first hand in the work I do for the charity I support how hard it is to sell a charity’s ideals and needs to a sometimes jaded audience. In my work I suffer Death by PowerPoint too often to be able to suffer bad presentations even for the best of causes. But today’s presentations were up there with the best I’ve seen.

I met some of the charities’ representatives at the start of the evening. They clearly wanted their adoptive pitch team to win, but each of them said that one of the great advantages of the scheme is how much they learn from seeing how people ‘sell’ their dream for them.

The hardest part was giving the feedback to the teams who hadn’t won but the greatest part was seeing the look on the faces of the winning team. More tears. This  is one goody bag I shall treasure, not because it was packed with goodies but because it was packed with passion and was overflowing with promise. Some commentators are sniffy about educators spending time on subjects such as Citizenship. Just like the charity reps who learn from these kids, it would do many well to see youth citizenship in action, they too would learn valuable lessons, in charity marketing and maybe even about the power of citizenship itself. I did.

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