Why should charity elections be limited to English-speaking schools?
Fabio Sandrecchi, a Philosophy and History teacher at the Istituto Salesiano Madonna degli Angeli (ISMDA) in Alassio, Italy, asked just this question. He and his school stepped up courageously to be the first institution to run an entirely localized version of the Charity Elections program in experiential altruism sponsored by Giving What We Can.
In the program, high school students research, discuss, and reflect on three top charities, before voting to decide which will receive up to $2,000 in sponsored funds. Intended to develop SEL (social and emotional learning) skills and cultivate a culture of giving, among other goals, the program has been run in six countries so far in 2022-2023 – but all were in English until now.
Mr. Sandrecchi and his colleagues diligently translated the slideshow and key administrative documents into Italian, not to mention creating Italian subtitles for all three charity videos with the help of the Charity Elections team. They then ran a charity election involving 153 students across the secondary school and in the top year of the middle school.
The school put extra emphasis on the reflective aspects of the process, with student leaders conducting interviews with over 50 students and staff including teachers, administration and even members of the custodial staff. The interviewers asked about their familiarity with causes in general and the three election charities in particular, and also inquired about what approach people expected to follow in order to make a final decision.
According to one student leader, they were gratified to see that “despite all [our] different perspectives, so many people have a desire to do good and to act.”
The program was somewhat novel in another way, as students in grade levels below secondary also ran the program – only the second time this has been done. Election coordinator Sandrecchi was pleased to see even the younger students fully engaged in the program. “They were doing the research and they were very precise, taking notes of all the information and statistics on each website. They were excited and involved, even though they are so young and it was not so usual for them to do something like this. This was an important moment in the experience for me.”
Student leaders felt that the program fostered a positive school climate: “We had time together, constructive time, and actually exchanged opinions. Classmates that I never had any particular interactions with—we created a moment of debate talking about the charities, and I had the opportunity to speak with them. So it was also a good way to improve the unity of the class.”
“Sometimes you just donate without asking many questions,” observed another student leader, “but in this case you were encouraged to research before actually donating money. This research was very interesting and new and it was something that I learned and will use in the future for sure.”
The Giving What We Can Charity Elections programme has funding available for 20+ high schools in 2023. Read about how you can impact hundreds of young givers by volunteering or referring your alma mater to run its own election, and see examples of past events with up to 800 voting students per school. You can also check out this video in Italian about the above charity election at ISMDA.