This week saw the first national RAG awards, to celebrate the exceptional fundraising successes of students throughout the country. Sponsored by Find, Invest, Grow (FIG) and RBS, the awards took place in Birmingham and saw prizes given in categories including ‘best event’, ‘best outreach’, ‘most innovative event’ and ‘RAG of the year’.
It’s good to see wide-scale recognition of some of the fundraising work undertaken by RAG societies – which are often well known for their off-the-wall, creative events, which have – particularly in recent years – been successful in raising large amounts of money for deserving causes.
Take Loughborough University for example, whose RAG events raise over £1.4 million throughout the year 2012/13 – equating to more than £65 per individual student. In terms of percentage of income – if we work with the NUS figures whereby annual student income (from grants and loans) is £14,370 (of which £8,354 is spent on tuition fees, leaving £6,016) that would mean Loughborough students donated an average of almost 1.1% of income (minus tuition fees) to charity. Compare this to a UK-wide average of 0.4% amongst the working population, and Loughborough students aren’t doing too badly after all.
The other positive of RAG events and societies, is their ability to raise awareness of charities and the need to donate, and instil a culture of giving amongst our young people.
And professional fundraisers probably have something to learn from RAG societies too. Their innovative, inclusive events (RAG weeks generally do have ‘something for everyone’ – whether you want to hitchhike across Europe, take part in a bake-sale or hold a fancy-dress disco) show how, when donors have the opportunity to get personally involved in fundraising activities, they are more likely to donate more.
I do hope that the rise of the RAG will continue, with its omnipresent element of fun, and let our students and young people know that fundraising can be just that – fun.
Have you been involved in any creative RAG activities with your university? We would love to hear your stories.