tl;dr

Please consider having an immediate impact by emailing a teacher you know to recommend they run a charity election or emailing us to recommend a school to the application process for Charity Elections.

Overview

We are excited to be scaling up the Charity Elections program in 2022-23 and are connecting with schools which might find attractive a self-contained program that

  • promotes youth voice and authentic civic engagement on real-world issues,
  • develops SEL (social and emotional learning) skills,
  • cultivates a culture of giving, and
  • is sponsored up to $2,000 per school by Giving What We Can.

Now you have the opportunity to connect young people with this week-long program in which groups of up to 800 students spend several hours in contact with key concepts around civic participation and giving. Participants consistently reflect on the event as meaningful and memorable:

“It made me think about how my choices mean something.” 

"It makes me realize how interconnected we are and any positive impacts in one part of the world can echo globally."

“It has made me think harder about the charities I choose to support, and how much of an impact I can make."

If you still have a connection to your high school, please consider recommending them to us, or us to them, about running a charity election. (Sample cut-and-paste emails that you can use are provided at the foot of this post.) You can make a difference for dozens or hundreds of students, helping empower them as changemakers and fostering compassion and empathy in their school with a program that’s front-loaded for success.

Most often, the program is run across one subject, overseen by a teacher in social studies (or GP), AP government, civics, politics, philosophy or ethics, history, theology, etc. It might also be something the ToK, MUN or experiential education coordinator gets excited about. 

How You Can Have Impact

If you are aware of a school that might benefit from a charity election, please send an email to charityelections@givingwhatwecan.org letting us know your association with the institution (e.g., that you’re a graduate and in what year), its name and location, and a contact if you can supply one. Note that many schools will want to run their election before the holidays, so contacting us soon would be very helpful.

Alternatively, you might cordially invite a teacher at your old school to visit charityelections.org to learn more, or to write us with questions. Application takes just a few minutes. 

At present we are most interested in schools in the US, but we expect to be able to offer the program internationally in the coming days and weeks, so schools anywhere can contact us now. Thank you for joining us in making an impact.

What is a Charity Election? 

(This repeats, more or less, the description from our last post. )

A charity election is a school-wide event in which high school students vote among three charities to decide which will receive up to $2,000 in sponsored funds. 

The program, adapted for young audiences from Giving Games as a form of experiential altruism, was created in 2018, and our team of five is funded at a total of one full-time position (~40 hrs/wk collectively) by a grant from the Effective Altruism Infrastructure Fund. 

The project has been incubated by Giving What We Can since 2021, and it was developed with the support of The Life You Can Save in years prior.

For sample election results, please see this video presented by a maths teacher who implemented the program in 2021, or this article co-written with two student leaders and an AP Government teacher. The event can be run by student leaders and/or teachers.

Charities on the Ballot

Schools running the program in their first year have a ballot consisting of the SCI Foundation, the Clean Air Task Force, and GiveDirectly. Other highly effective organisations that have been featured on the ballot include the The Humane League and the GiveWell Maximum Impact Fund. 

Before voting, students research and discuss the charities using a condensed framework designed to empower high school students to apply principles of effective giving in an age-appropriate manner. 

Since 2018, nearly 5,000 students have voted after participating in the research and discussion process, and our goal is to run the event in 15-40 schools over the duration of the grant and potentially continue to scale up thereafter.

Further Information

Please head to the Charity Elections webpage to learn more about the program, and follow us on Instagram for updates from the Student Mentor Team

If you have other questions, would like to get involved or have suggestions for improvement or partnership, please reach out to us: charityelections@givingwhatwecan.org.

Recommend a school right now

Here’s text of an email you can cut-and-paste in this email to recommend a school:

Dear Charity Elections,

I would like to recommend a school I know as a promising one for a charity election.

Name of school:  

Location:  

My connection to this school is:  

My name is:  

Contact me at (optional):  

A school contact (if any) is:  

Any other notes:  

Sincerely,

 

Recommend a teacher or school run an election

Here’s text of an email you can cut-and-paste in your email to refer a school to Charity Elections. Adapt it to your situation, as needed:

Dear [CONTACT AT THE SCHOOL],

I am a graduate of [SCHOOL NAME] from [YEAR]. Recently I was introduced to a nonprofit educational program that I think would be a great success at the school. Called Charity Elections, it’s a program that sponsors a school up to $2,000 as they run a set of activities up to one week in length that promotes youth voice and civic engagement on real-world issues (world poverty, climate change, many more), cultivates compassion and empathy, directs funds to highly effective charities, and provides service leadership opportunities to students. 

The program tends to be run across a department, such as Social Studies/Global Perspectives, Government/Politics, History or Philosophy. There’s no catch and no cost to the school—they just get a great event that is memorable and meaningful for students. Charity elections have been run in five countries, and schools typically find the experience so valuable that they apply to run it again in following years.

Rather than giving more details, please allow me to point you to charityelections.org, where you can learn more and take a few minutes to apply for sponsorship or write them for more information. If you don’t have capacity yourself this year, perhaps you can pass this note on to another teacher who might be able to follow up on the opportunity. 

Thanks for thinking about it!

Sincerely,

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3 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 1:42 PM

I think my highschool might like this kind of thing. Any thoughts on whether this would work well in a non-English-speaking country?

Highschoolers generally have good enough English here to engage with general texts, but obviously it's harder for them and takes them longer to read, write etc. So basically the question is, how many hours of work do you think this requires from each student (if they were a native speaker)?

If it's not too high an amount, I'll reach out to my school and pitch it as an opportunity for English class.

Guy, do let me know if there is anything else I can answer to help you decide whether to recommend the program to your school. Thanks!   -Adam-

Greg G., our project lead, sent me this information: Last year, a high school with limited English skills ran the event. Here is a testimonial from the teacher. (She requested sponsorship to run another charity election this year. )

”It had been a fulfilling experience for my students, they have not only learned about not charities but also got a chance to practice their language skills which is incredible! What a great accomplishment!”

While we have not started a process of localization for the program, it is a goal to start in the next year. In the meantime, however, it seems the program shows some success with English language learners.