Oxford Review of Education, 44(6) pp 702-715

This paper focuses on the ‘mainstreaming’ of charities into schools. There have been growing concerns about the permeation of business and business values in education, but relatively little attention has been paid to the ways in which schools are increasingly engaged in the ‘business’ of fundraising for charities. Drawing on survey data from the WISERDEducation Multi-Cohort Study (WMCS), the paper outlines young people’s relationship with charities. The data show that young people have a high degree of engagement with charities, in which schools play a significant part. There are likely to be many positive aspects to this engagement, inasmuch as it fosters and reflects young people’s sense of collective responsibility. However, there are also issues about the extent to which this high level of involvement marginalises other approaches to promote the social good and increases the permeation of business values and business into school. The paper concludes that the current mainstreaming of charities into schools is not necessarily a self-evident ‘good’ and that this under-researched phenomenon deserves greater critical attention within and outwith schools.