YouthBank is more than just a way of giving out grants – it is about supporting and training young people to reach their full potential whilst developing projects that will benefit their community. It is about young people leading the way, whilst also recognising the valuable role that adults have in supporting them. To set up a YouthBank you will need to think through a list of issues and find ways of fulfilling a range of functions. We know from the experiences of our pilot YouthBanks that there are a variety of ways to set up and run YouthBanks and we are keen to continue to try out new ideas. Some YouthBanks are hosted by one main organization, others by a partnership of local organizations, but whatever the arrangements, there are some common issues that all new YouthBanks will need to address. This list is by no means exhaustive but provides useful tips on how to set up a YouthBank.
Building on the experience of our pilot YouthBanks, we have found that a successful YouthBank needs one person to lead its development – this does not mean they have to do all of the work! Rather someone needs to take responsibility to ensure the work gets done. The time coordinators have to run YouthBanks varies, from just a few hours per week up to a half time plus post. We would strongly recommend the latter but recognise that this is not always possible (at least initially) and for smaller YouthBanks that meet less often, it may not be absolutely necessary.
2- Collecting the right information to make the right decision
Identifying the needs and circumstances of young people in the area and investigating the major issues facing their community will be key to your decision-making process in terms of giving out grants. A wide range of interactive methods and processes should be considered to assist young grant makers to establish their funding priorities.
3- Young people
Most YouthBanks recruit in average 10-12 young people that reflect of a cross section of the community they live in. You will need to think carefully about how you will recruit young people and who they will be. We expect YouthBanks to be representative of the area they cover, again this may not always be possible at first but you need to be thinking about ways of targeting harder to reach young people. A good way to do this is through the YouthBank grants themselves. Once you have set up your YouthBank you can publicise the grants in areas and ways that would reach groups you may want to target and then find ways of enabling them to become grant-makers themselves.
4- Money for grant-making
You will need to identify a pot of money to be given out by your YouthBank. There is no fixed amount that is necessary. It will depend very much on the needs of the area your YouthBank will cover as well as what you can manage to get to start with. It needs to be enough to make setting up the YouthBank worthwhile but we have also found that a large pot of money, especially at the beginning can put unwanted pressures on a YouthBank. Some YouthBanks give out grants very early on but others have taken up to six months before they are ready to give out their first grants.
We encourage you to think creatively about ways to fundraise, which will help you to develop skills, increase your pot of money and make your YouthBank sustainable.
5- Money for support and training
This is crucial for the success of your YouthBank. Young people will need support and training on a range of issues such as teambuilding, decision-making processes, equal opportunities and grant criteria. The YouthBank Toolkit will help you deliver training sessions. You may not need to raise money to pay for all of this directly but be able to find partner organizations that will contribute ‘in-kind’ support.
You also need experienced people to deliver training sessions. You may need to bring in specialist people or organizations to do some of this – for example grant-making, human rights, cultural awareness, financial skill, disability awareness training – but your coordinator may also be able to deliver the training or part of.
6- Somewhere to meet
You will need to find suitable premises for your YouthBank – somewhere the young people will find easy to get to and is appropriate and accessible to all young people. Again you may find a partner organization to contribute this free of charge. Some YouthBanks have had to use different venues and this has made it more difficult to establish the identity of the YouthBank.
7- Finance and administration support
This is really important. As your YouthBank will be spending other people’s money you need to be able to properly account for it. You will need appropriate administration systems to pay out grants and record how the money is spent. Over time the young people will be able to do more and more of this but you will need to make arrangements form the start of your YouthBank for this to be done. Do remember to check that any arrangements you put in place for the payment of grants are actually suitable for the operation of your YouthBank – in our experience YouthBanks like to make decisions and pay out grants quickly, make sure you use an organisation that will be able to meet these needs.
8- Monitoring and evaluation systems
All YouthBanks have to monitor their work – to look at where grants are spent and what on. We would hope that young people themselves will take this task on and offer training to enable them to do this. You will also need to think about how you evaluate the work of your YouthBank – areas could include how grants are spent, the impact of YouthBank on those involved and the impact of the YouthBank on the community as a whole.