Reclaiming philanthropy

Posted on: 30 August 2015

I was recently asked to come up with an alternative to the phrase ‘social action’. An unusual challenge as I come from Student Hubs network, who consider social action the core of their work. As a student, I feel very comfortable with social action, campaigning, activism. Though on the rare occasion I leave the Oxford Hub bubble – the bubble within the bubble – it becomes apparent that not everybody is.

Some alternatives: active citizenship, civil engagement, social responsibility, ‘the good thing to do’, philanthropy…

Philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to good causes.

I don’t know about you, but generally when I think of philanthropy I conjure up images of charity galas, silent auctions, lots of old men in suits throwing money at ‘good causes’ just because they can – or maybe they need to alleviate a guilty conscience. While this may be a rather narrow caricature, I do think that young people don’t feel so able to engage in philanthropy. It’s a generational thing; older people engage in philanthropy, and young engage in social action.

Oliver Farzin-Nia, Executive Director of social enterprise OxFizz, sums up why this may be, “You only really have two things in life, time or money. Very occasionally you can have both, but it’s more likely that you have one, or sometimes neither”. OxFizz enables graduates, a group defined by its lack of time and money, to engage inn philanthropy. It is a volunteered powered, not-for-profit organisation based around an innovative fundraising model.

Oxford and Cambridge graduates donate their time and talents to provide educational services, which generate profit that is then donated to charities of the volunteers’ choosing. Simple. In addition to supporting fee-paying students, OxFizz provides free services to students from less advantaged backgrounds through their partnerships with The Access Project, The Sutton Trust, Villiers Park, Ark Schools and Teach First.

OxFizz provides interview practice and has set up a Summer School in Oxford in recent years. These are high level educational services, for which volunteers are trained and generate approximately £50 an hour for charity in return.

Since it was founded in 2007, OxFizz has raised over £400,000for charity. Many of the beneficiaries are small charities, local to Oxford and Cambridge. For charities like Jacari it now provides a sustainable source of funding, last year volunteers raised over £7,200. OxFizz proudly calls itself a philanthropic organisation: it generously donates money to good causes on behalf of its penniless graduate volunteers.

So, to all you Oxbridge graduates heading into the wild west of London, your days of Schools Plus, Project Soup, and Oxfam club nights behind you, consider donating your time to OxFizz and be proud to call yourself a philanthropist!


OxFizz is recruiting volunteers for Autumn 2015!

Looking for enthusiastic Oxbridge Gradates or those in postgraduate study, their final year of undergraduate or studying medicine at any university.

Volunteering with OxFizz is low time commitment, flexible and most of all fun! Expenses are covered and lunch is provided.
Please email volunteers@oxfizz.org to find out more & join our 200-person strong network of philanthropic graduates!

Miriam Chapman

Miriam is on the Oxford Hub committee, and is taking part in the Social Impact Internship Scheme this summer with the not-for-profit social enterprise, Oxfizz. Oxfizz aims to generate social good in three ways: empowering volunteers to use their skills to raise money for a charity of their choice (Student Hubs please thank you), improving access to top universities and, providing volunteers with volunteering opportunities which allow them to engage with philanthropy.

Tags: Social Impact Careers, Student Voice


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