Tips for effective social action in schools: part 1

Social action programmes in schools can give young people the framework to make a difference to the world around them, and as an integrated part of their wider education.

In this five-part series, our Giving Nation team sets out some tips for running social action projects.

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First things first: what do you want to change?

What issue do you want to tackle? Is something bothering you in your community? Or maybe you’re passionate about curing a disease?

Social action starts with the issue, not the activity. Your first step should always be identifying what you want to change and why. Making sure your whole team gets behind your chosen topic will help you win support.

And what do you want to achieve? Do you want to raise awareness or raise money? Maybe you want to do some hands-on volunteering, or maybe you want to run a fully-fledged social enterprise? (More on these in the following weeks.)

Connect your activity to your issue

Think about it: if you’re trying to raise awareness of child poverty, holding a cake sale probably won’t cut it! The stronger the link between your activities and your cause, the more memorable it will be to your audience.

Set meaningful goals

Your project should have a real benefit to the community or to your cause. Whether you decide to campaign, fundraise, volunteer or set up a social enterprise you need to know exactly what it is you’re trying to achieve. Make sure the targets you set yourself are challenging, but also realistic.

Grab people’s attention

Be creative and try and think of an idea that no-one has done before. The more creative you are the more likely people will take notice of what you’re doing. What skills and talents do you already have? Think about how you can use your group’s strengths to benefit your cause.

Go beyond the school gates

Get out there and push boundaries. The best projects involve people from the wider community. Use your networks and communities and enlist supporters. Contact local businesses and MPs, and get local newspapers and radio on your side.

Work as a team

Even the most creative and exciting project ideas need to be achievable – make sure you have enough time and resources to achieve your goals. Break down your project into manageable chunks and ensure everyone has a definite part to play.

Use your enthusiasm

It’s old, but true: the more you put in to your activities, the more you get out.

There, that should be enough to get you started! Keep an eye out for more social action tips.

Part two: Awareness campaigns
Part three: Fundraising campaigns 
Part four: Volunteering
Part five: Social enterprise

Giving Nation is the most popular social action programme for schools and alternative education nationally.

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Views expressed on this blog are not necessarily those of the Citizenship Foundation.

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