Whether it’s a small donation to the local charity shop, or scaling freestanding mountains for sponsorship, there are so many ways you can be charitable whilst studying for your degree. Writer Sophie has put together a list of five easy ways to raise some money for charity whilst providing yourself with some life experience that can also look great on the CV, all of which you can balance with your workload.
1. Donate to your local charity shop
We all own a pair of worn-out jeans, a top that’s been in the wardrobe for years, or a pair of shoes we didn’t even remember owning. So why not give them a new home by donating them to the charity shop? I’m guilty of buying clothes and adding to my wardrobe without giving a second thought to the ones hung up and still unworn. But a great way to be charitable is to pledge that for every new item you buy, you’ll put another into the charity bag. You’ll be surprised how many items you can donate in a short amount of time.
A good time to have a clear out is when you’re moving out of halls or your student accommodation at the end of the year. Do you really wear all those clothes that you’re about to pack up and trundle back home? If not, keep an eye out for the British Heart Foundation clothes banks on campus and donate the things you no longer want.
You can also take books, toys, clothes, and pretty much anything else you no longer want to a charity shop. It is such an easy way to make room for your own things whilst being charitable and something you can continue doing after your degree, too!
2. Contribute to food banks
Another easy way to be charitable is to donate your non-perishable food items to the local food bank. These are in place for families with low incomes and/or need support. The odd tin of beans, bag of pasta, or toiletries that have been sitting in a cupboard since Christmas, can really help someone else who is struggling. Yes, we’re students, and we’re not exactly the richest people in the world, but by donating even just a few cans and non-perishable items to the local food bank, you’ll be helping families put meals on the table. You’re also helping people to get the support of a range of services offered by food banks, such as financial and debt advisors who are on hand to talk if needed. This support ultimately allows them to get out of the cycle of relying on food banks long-term.
3. Donate an hour a week
Donating a small amount of your time each week can mean so much to a small charity shop on the corner of your street, or a lonely person at the end of the phone. Charities like Help The Aged have telephone schemes, where you can donate one hour a week to talk to elderly people who live alone just to share some company and so that they have something to look forward to. This is also something that looks really good on your CV and you’ll learn valuable interpersonal and communicative skills.
Your time at university is a really encouraging one, and something you should make the most of. An hour a week going the extra mile, volunteering in a charity shop, can really make the difference between you getting a job after university or not. Proving to an employer that you gained more than just a degree whilst at university is priceless. And all for just an hour a week.
4. Become a charity rep
Lots of charities now offer a voluntary position as a representative for them within your university. This can mean creating a Raising and Giving (RAG) society for them, or simply being a part of an existing RAG and educating fellow students. CoppaFeel! are one of these charities. They have a Uni Boob team who represent and share the beliefs of the charity and help spread the word about breast cancer. They spread the signs and symptoms and what to look out for, with a special focus on young people.
Sometimes, being a charity rep can just mean relaying information from the charity to the student body. Often, you can do as much or as little as you are able. They are aware you’re a student so they don’t need 24/7 dedication, but you will utilise skills that will stay with you after university and can even help with your degree.
Helping out at events such as half marathons, or other local fundraising events, is another a great way of representing the charity whilst giving your time in a relaxed way, without feeling pressured into lengthy periods of time.
5. Sign up for a big challenge
One of the best and most beneficial ways I’ve found to raise money for charity is by taking part in a longer term commitment. In 2015 I was part of a group of Bath Spa University students who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in collaboration with Dig Deep, an African water and sanitation charity who work to input filtration units into villages in rural Africa. We raised over £70,000 as a team over the course of the year, each with individual targets of just under £3000. Although this seems like quite a daunting amount, it can be easier to raise through events and fundraisers.
As well as getting to complete the challenge at the end, you also get first-hand experience of event planning, liaising with the charity for fundraisers and sharing information with the people who donate. These things can really help make your CV stand out, and are a great thing to talk about in interviews.
It can be so easy to just focus on your degree whilst at uni, but by putting yourself out there and volunteering – even if you’re just starting with donations to the charity shop or food bank – you will gain so many life skills which will be transferable after you graduate.
So why not start a donation bag at home and have a clear out? Or search for a local charities find out how you can help them – it might just be a one-time thing, or an hour every week, but for someone it could really make a difference.