CHOICE launches ‘Investing in Youth Impact’; a Toolkit on funding for youth-led organisations
Young people are a key demographic in bringing about social change and can especially play a vital role in spearheading sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) since they themselves have the best understanding of the challenges, strengths and opportunities that affect them. To enhance the reach, relevance, and effectiveness of SRHR initiatives, it is important to ensure that their needs and opinions are reflected. Meaningful youth participation not only grants legitimacy to SRHR programs but can also make them more accepted within a community and lead to a multiplier effect. By being actively involved, young people also increase their knowledge of SRHR-related issues. When young people are included in the development of youth-related initiatives at every stage, policies and services can be more effective and ultimately more sustainable. In this way, YLOs hold a special position to develop and implement initiatives that address issues from a youth perspective and offer solutions that respond to the diverse realities of young people.
"YLOs are some of the most passionate, energetic and impactful entities in social justice movements around the world and are continuously working towards overcoming these barriers."
Although YLOs are becoming increasingly effective and visible, many still struggle to have their voices heard and gain a spot in the decision-making processes. Based on several interviews and a global survey, our research findings highlight unique barriers such as prioritization of youth-specific issues by donors, lack of accessibility and donor transparency, limited funds or restrictions on certain types of funding, and extensive funding application requirements. These problems may be further accentuated for YLOs that may have limited experience and lack organisational capacity or technical skills, have insufficient knowledge about the donor landscape, and are incapacitated to build a strong network and garner visibility to get noticed by potential donors. While most organisations face these challenges, constant staff turnover and changes in leadership that YLOs experience makes this a particularly difficult problem. Despite this, YLOs are some of the most passionate, energetic and impactful entities in social justice movements around the world and are continuously working towards overcoming these barriers.
CHOICE advocates for the SRHR of young people around the globe, and encourages investment in sustaining YLOs to ensure their involvement in decisions which directly make an impact on their lives. Through the ‘Investing in Youth Impact’ toolkit, we seek to understand the experiences of YLOs in accessing donor funds. Based on the experiences of over 130 diverse YLOs from around the world and 15 major donors, the toolkit gives an insight into the barriers YLOs face while navigating the donor landscape from both the YLOs and donors’ perspectives and discusses strategies and recommendations on how to overcome them. This toolkit further serves as a key resource for donors and other youth-serving NGOs to further understand the issues faced by YLOs and know which models and best practices make funding more accessible and youth-friendly.