What is it like to be a Young-Grant Maker? Maria Lawal explains her experience as one.
I first joined the young grant makers not knowing what grant making was or how charities run. The process was broken down to help us understand how it works and what changes we want to make in our community: we created a set of criteria we all agreed on which would become the backbone of our decisions, also reminding us to not reflect our own biases on a charity.
Through the programme I was introduced to a variety of personalities and had to adapt my communication style, for example; recognising that those of the amiable personality type may take longer to make a decision because they want to keep everyone happy. An amiable person on the team might not be quick to vote an organisation out, instead thinking of a solution to spread the grant out to as many as possible. Identifying and respecting the different values people hold is vital in all forms of relationships and social aspects of life whether it’s with colleagues, friends, family members, businesses etc.
About halfway through the process we were taught how to read a not-for-profit organisation’s financial documentation including restricted and unrestricted funds, debtors, yearly forecast, differentiating between expenditure and income and more. I found this part confusing especially because maths isn’t my strongest point. However, it was useful to know; when looking at an organisation’s finances it wasn’t vital to remember all the terminology or have incredible maths skills as long as we could spot the difference, ask questions, or notice some, if any, mistakes.
Near the end we visited our applicants in groups of three, one of my favourite parts of being a young grant maker. While some were well established organisations with healthy finances, some ran on nothing but passion and choosing not to pay themselves to keep their charity going. I enjoyed seeing for myself what the organisations do and meeting some of the young people the grant would impact. It helped me realise how important the grant is.
At first my idea of a charity was things like RSPCA, and helping children in developing countries; but by the end of the process I discovered several youth provisions in my local area ranging from music theatre and sports to mental health, employment, and homelessness.
Having young people make choices that impact other young people introduces us to organisations we can access after the programme that not many young people know exist, helps us understand our community and widen our network as well as gives us the opportunity to build our skills that we can later add to our CV.
If you’ve enjoyed this read, you can read Sadia’s experience or read about the funding decisions that our Young Grant-Makers made.