Attracting young trustees can prove to be tough. But is it young people who are evading charities, or charities evading young people? Tesse Akpeki says young people are willing, but you need to know where to find them.
An on-going challenge we are often told is how to attract young people as board members or volunteers. I was reminded of this when on the spur of the moment my brother invited me to a fundraiser for Cancer Research. The event was held in a nightclub in Central London.
The fundraiser was a mixture of singing, dancing, rap, comedy and a fashion show. There was not one dull moment. I was inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and creativity of the young people who were organising the event and those who were attending it. It was truly an event for young people by young people. Older people like me were welcome to attend and I must say were made to feel included, although I did not make any attempt to engage in the latest dance moves!
Randolph Matthews was my highlight. A talented singer, he drew attention to the cause and had the young people so engaged, they just hung on till the end. He was not shy about his interest in engaging with people to change the world.
The inclusive environment encouraged to connect with those close to me. I got speaking to two talented young people - Naomi and Isabelle. I asked them what had attracted them to come. Naomi told me that earlier this year her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. While she her mother was making a steady recovery, Naomi said she came to realise the important work Cancer Research was undertaking. Isabelle, a friend on Naomi, had been so fired up by Naomi’s passion she got involved too.
There are so many worthwhile causes that young people connect with. Those I spoke to told me that young people connect with other young people and a whole network of interest is nurtured and strengthened – peer connection at its best. Most of the artists, fashion designers and models were donating their time for free.
I was glad to have said yes to my brother’s impromptu invitation to this event. I left with a spring in my step knowing that this young generation is inspired to build communities and make a difference. We have just got to reach out, go to where the young people are (in this case the club was a good venue decision) and give them a reason to connect.
I told Naomi and Isabelle about what I do and my heartfelt desire for strong leadership and governance. Rather than roll their eyes, they said they would be getting in touch! I can’t wait. This passion I guess is what fuels the work of Young Charity Trustees spearheaded by Alex Swallow. If my experience is any proof, inspiring a generation of young trustees is definitely a worthwhile vision.