Philanthropists John Nickson and Paul Donocan discussed their novel approach to stimulating community development.
Philanthropy’s essential role in tackling the Youth Crisis.
Youth crisis – Young people have been amongst the worst hit by Covid. The demographic is now suffering its second ‘once in a generation’ economic shock. Instrumental in supporting young people during this period have been youth charities like The Prince’s Trust. Kat Farram, Director of Philanthropy at The Prince’s Trust, discusses why philanthropy is proving so crucial to the charity’s work with young people.
What is the Youth Crisis and why does it matter?
Even before Covid hit, we had reason to be concerned about the wellbeing of young people in the UK. Overall, the pace of generational growth in household income – widely taken by experts as a benchmark of day-to-day living standards – has slowed. The present crisis has only intensified the instability that characterises the lives of so many of the UK’s most disadvantaged young people.
All of our lives have been disrupted by the pandemic, but the socioeconomic impact is being felt disproportionately by young people who are suffering their second ‘once in a generation’ economic shock. After the last financial crisis, youth unemployment increased three times more than it did for older age groups, leaving over a million young people out of work by 2011. Today, young people account for three in five job losses experienced since last March. Sadly, we still haven’t seen the worst of the unemployment crisis.
A report by The Prince’s Trust and the Learning and Work Institute warns that young people will increasingly bear the brunt of the disruption to the labour landscape, with youth unemployment set to climb further still throughout 2021.
Unemployment at the start of a young person’s working life can leave a scar that lasts a lifetime. We already needed to ensure the sustainability of work available, to future-proof jobs and apprenticeships and to adapt our national skillset to meet new opportunities in digital and green industries. Covid-19 has simply accelerated the opportunity to address social mobility and tackle the skills deficit our country faces. If we don’t, there’s a cost to all of us. Indeed, the economic cost of youth unemployment in terms of lost national output is forecast to be £6.9 billion in 2022 alone.
How is philanthropy helping The Prince’s Trust to respond to the crisis?
Philanthropy accounts for roughly 30% of The Prince’s Trust’s income. The long-term support of our Patrons means that The Trust can make a sustainable difference to the futures of tens of thousands of young people every year. In the past year, the loyalty of our supporters has granted us the flexibility to adapt our services in response to the pandemic – taking our support online in response to social distancing measures, for example – to ensure we could maintain a strong system of support throughout the crisis.
There are several ways philanthropy has enabled us to be there for young people:
1. Hyper-local investment
If we are to help young people find sustainable work, we have to tailor our youth work to regional labour landscapes. Many of our philanthropists invest in regions that they have a connection to, from major cities like London, Manchester or Birmingham, to rural and coastal communities. Not only do they provide much-needed investment, but their personal affinity for the community challenges us to adapt our provision to local needs and opportunities.
One example is our partnership with Hans Bishop and Kate James, who have invested in our work in the Solent. Hans and Kate, who respectively bring a wealth of experience from backgrounds in biotech, edtech and at the Gates Foundation, partnered with us to improve the prospects of more young people locally and grow partnerships with employers in sustainable industries, like healthcare, as well as other sectors at the heart of the Solent’s labour market. This will place us in better stead in the aftermath of the pandemic, as we diversify the opportunities for young people beyond retail, tourism or hospitality. Our relationship with Kate and Hans is testament to the power of the advisory relationship that can come from philanthropic partnerships.
2. Intensive interventions for the hardest-to-reach
The Prince’s Trust believes that a successful society relies on each of its citizens having a stake, but this is only possible if those facing the greatest disadvantage are given the opportunity to succeed. As increasing numbers of ‘work-ready’ young people struggle to secure a job due to fewer vacancies, those already on the fringes of society are being pushed further from the jobs market. To combat this, our brilliant youth support workers provide intensive support to those most-in-need, helping them to develop the confidence and skills to succeed in the long-term.
Philanthropists fund the majority of our work with the hardest-to-reach young people – such as those who are homeless, care-leavers, young offenders or those living with learning difficulties. Generally, philanthropists are more willing to invest in these more intensive interventions, which require more time and care to build-up, than funders from the public and corporate sectors. Amongst our supporter-base, there is a consensus that a foundation of confidence and skills is critical in order to take steps towards employment, despite the additional cost this may incur.
3. Investment in infrastructure and sustainability
Increasingly, philanthropists, trusts and foundations are investing in behind-the-scenes projects to strengthen our organisation’s infrastructure and maximise impact. This investment approach to grant-making, which awards funding to strengthen the long-term effectiveness and build the capacity of non-profit institutions, ensures we are able to reach the right demographics of young people, ensure the efficacy of our programmes and secure further funding through more meaningful representations of our impact.
Investments such as these bring immense value to our organisation and help us to fortify in the long-term at a time when so many third-sector organisations have found themselves at risk.
How can you help address the youth crisis?
Organisations working with today’s young people have never been more needed. Amidst a challenging fundraising landscape, strategic investment from philanthropists is key to helping us and others meet the needs of young people. Over the past five years, philanthropy has grown to become one of our dominant income streams. But beyond financial support, philanthropy provides us with creative partnerships that strengthen our organisation by challenging it.
Youth charities empower young people – often the most vulnerable young people – to pursue opportunities that may otherwise be out of reach. A collaborative approach that involves the government, support agencies and employers really is critical to giving the most disadvantaged young people the best start in life. Philanthropy is an essential part of that collaboration. As we start to look beyond the pandemic, we must offer all the support we can to help every young person become an independent, fulfilled and economically active member of society.
To find out more about The Prince’s Trust’s work and how you can help, please contact Kat Farram, Director of Philanthropy, at firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about the philanthropy landscape, explore the Beacon Blog.