Putting our money where our mouth is, we’ve broken down the ways in which you could make a difference right here. You’re welcome.
- Find out more about charity societies on campus
We know that that charity aisle is normally tucked away at the back of the Freshers Fair hall, but don’t be fooled. At most universities there is an amazing selection of charitable/ethical/social action-y student societies, and they’d all love for you to support their cause by signing up. Remember, if you’re at a Hub university then sign up to The Week and you’ll get updates on all of these societies’ opportunities and activities in one weekly email.
- Try something new
Uni is the perfect time to step out of your comfort zone and try something new. Whether it’s tutoring local pupils struggling to reach their GCSE grades, building a community garden or joining an international campaigning committee, this is your chance to try something new and make a difference in ways you never thought you would or could.
- Give one hour a week
The most frequent reason we hear for not getting involved is that people ‘don’t have the time’. Uni is full of lectures, deadlines, friends and social activities. But you can start by giving just one hour a week of your time (ok, plus half an hour for boring things like travel) – and, continued over a term or, better yet, a whole year, these hours add up to have a truly positive impact.
- Become a leader for your cause
One hour a week is great place to start; but we know that you have it in you to do so much more. By becoming a leader for the cause you’re passionate about, you can really shape and drive the impact that you’re creating. You could lead a volunteering team, become President of a charitable society, co-ordinate a series of speaker event to inspire others, or organise an event to raise awareness on campus.
- Get fundraising
One thing that all good causes have in common: they need money! There’s always more that organisations could be doing to alleviate suffering, injustice, poverty, or conflict, and for this they need some dollar. Organising a fundraising initiative for your cause is an amazing way to show your support. Not only will you be able to hand them a cheque at the end, but you can also use it as platform to raise awareness of their activities, impact and opportunities for involvement.
- Start a campaign
Organising a campaign is a great way to develop your own skills and make change happen. Identify an issue, articulate your solution and get the message out there. Show people that they have the power and potential to make a difference, too – by signing a petition, making a donation, attending a sit in or giving their time, they can add value to your campaign get you closer to achieving the change you want to see.
- Get your friends involved
People power is where it’s at, and your friendship group is a great place to start. Whether it’s getting them involved in the volunteering project you love, badgering them to attend the fundraising event that you’ve organised, or even persuading them to take part in a half-marathon to support your cause (these people are your best friends), mobilise your mates and you’ll multiply your impact!
- Start a movement
You really can – just look at #nomakeupselfie. Started by individuals who wanted to raise some money to help beat breast cancer, the campaign picked up millions of advocates on social media – including the likes of Beyonce, Rihanna, Cheryl Cole and Cara Delevigne. The campaign not only raised awareness of the work that breast cancer charities are doing to eradicate the disease and introduced the act of donating to generation selfie; but also raised £8m for Cancer Research UK in just 6 days. And they guys in head office had nothing to do with it.
- Set your sights further afield
There are a lot of urgent issues to tackle here in the UK, and we should never forget that. But, with a sense of spreading our wings, many young people are naturally drawn to the plight of countries across the globe – whether in Europe, the Middle East, Africa, South America, or another corner of the planet. Volunteering overseas can be an amazing experience – for you and, most importantly, the communities you work with. However, there are also lots of ethical issues to consider when planning an overseas volunteering placement. Check out Impact International to find out more.
- Consider how you can make a difference for the rest of your life.
University is a great place to start, or continue, your commitment to making a difference. But have you thought about how you could make this a part of your life – forever? There are millions of charities, social enterprises and non-government organisations (NGOs) around the world who employ full-time frontline and support staff so that they can deliver their life-changing programmes. Have you thought about the role you could have in a social impact career? You can use all the skills you develop as a student activist to take the next step into a fulfilling and worthwhile charity career.