By Thomas Cohen
This year has been unpredictable with many new challenges, but the resilience of students in adapting to the new circumstances and in taking advantage of new opportunities has been remarkable. One student movement which has been particularly successful despite all the constraints of lockdown is Raise Durham, a new charity initiative in Durham which so far this year has raised over £18,000 for the Against Malaria Foundation.
Raise Durham is part of a national movement that encourages students to mark the end of the academic year with a personally significant donation to charity. At a time when the future of balls and college days is uncertain, Raise offers a new way of celebrating the end of the academic year and coming together as a community.
Raise started in Cambridge in 2018, as ‘May Week Alternative’ (MWA), and has since expanded across the country. With a positive and deliberate approach to giving, Raise differs substantially from other approaches to charity, and student charity in particular. At university, most fundraising initiatives don’t place focus on the act of giving itself. For instance, you might be asked to sponsor a friend, buy a ticket to an event, or give an amount that is so small you don’t even really notice it; in each case, you will probably not engage much with your donation.
Raise promotes a different kind of giving, which places the act of donating front and centre, encouraging donors to actively engage with the impact of their donation. In part, they achieve this by asking for students to donate an amount of a size significant to them, and not an amount that might just be an afterthought. By placing deliberate giving in the context of celebration, Raise aims to create a new culture around charity within the student community and beyond. The students that run the initiative believe that by coming together as a community, we can make a massive impact while having a wonderful time in the process.
The initiative raised over £160,000 in its first 3 years in Cambridge, engaging over 650 students in its community of giving. These are hundreds of students making what is most likely their largest-ever donation to charity, and the impact they have made is truly remarkable. In part, this is because Raise recommends donations to the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), which is independently rated as one of the world’s most effective charities.
Every single donation to AMF goes directly to purchasing long-lasting insecticidal nets, which are one of the most effective defences against malaria. Raise Durham have also secured matched funding, which triples every donation, and they claim to have protected over 22,200 people already this year.
In the years to come, Raise hopes to become a staple of the Durham calendar. The current circumstances give us an opportunity to broaden how we celebrate and enshrine new ways to mark the end of the academic year. Raise offers a form of celebration that doesn’t necessarily rely on events and balls, but instead focuses on helping make the world a better place.
Image: Raise Durham