20 May 2024

Participation Methods to Reach Young Voices – How to Involve Children and Youth in Your Work


The peer-learning journey “How to Involve Children and Youth in Your Work” is a series of online webinars organised by Philea’s Children and Youth Network throughout 2024 that aim to advance youth inclusion in the work of foundations by providing concrete pathways and tools to implement. Following each module, foundations that are willing to transform their way of working with young people can benefit from input from organisations with specific expertise on a given topic.

The second module explored “How to Use a Variety of Participation Methods to Reach Young Voices” with The National Lottery Community Fund, on 23 April. Read on to discover the key points and recommendations from presenters/those involved in the project.

Aims and content

This module aimed to explain to participants how to use a variety of participation methods in order to reach a diverse range of young people’s voices. The module went through a range of methods utilised at The National Lottery Community Fund to reach young people directly as young advisors to peer researchers or working in partnership with experts in the youth sector, among other methods. The methods have mainly involved working with young people between 16 and 25 years of age, but some are adaptable to a range of ages. The session highlighted the strengths and weaknesses of each area and how the evaluation has helped inform the next steps of their strategy working with children & young people.

Learning topics covered

  • Understanding a variety of methods for participation
  • Understanding the successes and challenges of each method
  • How to ensure the work is embedded
  • Tips for ensuring organisational buy-in

The model project

With over a third of its funding aimed towards children and young people, The National Lottery Community Fund has developed a “Youth Voice” strategy to embed youth participation across the organisation and ensure its grantmaking reaches the communities it aims to serve. The model adopted by the foundation is a stratified “pyramid of involvement” that maps out the means through which young people’s voices influence different aspects of the organisation and its work along the whole grantmaking cycle.

TitleUtilising the pyramid of participation within grantmaking
Mode of participationConsultation / collaboration / leading
Age of young people involved16-25 (mainly)

Point in philanthropic cycle

Youth Voices involves young people at the following points in the philanthropic cycle:

  1. Defining issues and priorities to be targeted by programmes
  2. Investigating the views of children/youth on the issues (research)
  3. Designing programmes (activities, grants)
  4. Grants attribution
  5. Sharing the learnings and following up (dissemination, valorisation)
  6. Board: joining a governance structure (advisory group or board)
  7. Staff: Building capacity of foundation staff

Recommendations from The National Community Fund based on this experience:

The foundation recommends the following “5 ways to be” for interested organisations:

  1. Be transparent and set clear expectations
  2. Be accessible, provide a safe space
  3. Be interactive and fun
  4. Be together with young people in design and evaluation of projects
  5. Be diverse and inclusive

Excerpt from Module 2 Q&A

How can we work together in the network to collect good practices on the impact assessment of working together with young people?

The Lundy model is a great example as it’s very adaptable. And one of the resources the National Lottery Fund will look at as we develop our next strategy are those tools that they’ve developed around it, looking at the impact for the young person, the impact for the organisation, and then the impact for the grant recipients. But this latter aspect is less developed than the others, so as a network we could look further into how to measure the influence of this kind of participatory work, and specifically the difference made by involving young people on the actual grantmaking practice, because this aspect is trickier.

We can have, for example, numbers showing how many more applications we get in that mention Youth Voice. But there’s something much deeper in the work that the young group did where they were really shifting the grantmaking practices and mindsets and influencing grantmaking officers’ decisions. If we could work on these aspects together and share existing best practices, I think that would be great as collective lovers of this work who are doing these kinds of assessments in our journeys.

Module recording