This month, the UK is rallying behind Comic Relief. We were inspired to feature a student society committed to fundraising. RAG (Raising and Giving) is the LSE Students’ Union’s fundraising arm. Their society aims to bring change through a diversified range of events, campaigns, and actions in favour of a wide range of causes, including women’s empowerment, disability and mental health, human rights, sustainability, and homelessness. We chatted with Michelle, the president of RAG, about their society and what they get up to!
Hype: Hi LSE RAG! It’s great to speak to you. For those who haven’t heard of RAG before, what is the society about?
LSE RAG: RAG stands for Raising and Giving, and that’s exactly what we do. We fundraise throughout the year for various student-selected charities, in ways that are often fun and creative. We also actively volunteer and raise awareness about a range of campaigns. We work to empower LSE students to take collective action so as to create change.
Hype: What do you feel are the best qualities of the society?
LSE RAG: We’re a society that’s really easy to collaborate with, since almost any idea or event can be turned into a fundraiser or charitable initiative. Because of this, we’re able to organise diverse events; chances are, we’ve been able to accommodate everyone’s personal preferences and most students would support RAG and our charities at some point in uni, directly or indirectly, as some fundraisers are pretty ‘effortless’ – such as going on a regular club night out and paying the standard prices, except that some profits would go to charity. Another great quality that RAG has is that we’re a gateway to other societies and can bring groups of people together, as one of the biggest and most active societies at LSE. RAG also tends to attract really genuine, kind, and adventurous people, so we always come across awesome and inspiring people.
Hype: What have been your best experiences with RAG?
LSE RAG: Being able to collaborate with so many societies on their events and meeting lots of people along the way have been really cool. We get the opportunity to help organise and attend these events, and dip our toes into what other LSE students get up to. The amount of talent at LSE is insane and we get to witness this all the time – for example, we saw Drama Society pull off one heck of a Mamma Mia Musical within 24 hours and a Dance Show with performance after performance that were all mindblowing! It’s also rewarding to know that we’re not only fundraising for important causes and making an effort to improve the lives of marginalised communities around the world, but also contributing to a vibrant social life on campus and instilling a charitable and generous spirit in students which will continue to compound all the positive impacts like increased fundraising and volunteering in their lives to help more and more people!
Hype: How does the society choose the charities and what are some of the charities you’ve raised for?
LSE RAG: How LSE RAG has selected our charities in the past has varied, in a bid to keep improving the charity selection process. In previous years, we’d select three partner charities, under the categories of ‘local’, ‘national’, and ‘international’. Any UK registered charities are welcome to apply each year to become a partner, by filling in a Google form answering all the questions and prompts we’ve given. The RAG committee then carefully reads through all the applications and discusses which charities to shortlist based on predetermined criteria. Shortlisted charities go on to be interviewed by the Head of Outreach and President before the list of charities are once again narrowed down. Finally, the latest shortlisted charities are opened up to the student body during the freshers period to vote on. Other than this lengthy and difficult process to select our charity partners, we also fundraise for other charities throughout the year on a smaller scale; when students come to us wanting to fundraise for a particular charity or contribute to a different cause, we’ll do our best to support them with their fundraising.
Hype: Recently, your society was involved in organising a donation drive in light of the Ukraine war. Tell us more about this!
LSE RAG: Working with the Students’ Union and the UCL Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES) Society, we organised a collection drive for donations of items (like canned food, toiletries and medical supplies) needed to help the Ukrainian people and refugees in Lviv. With aggressive promotion on all our social media platforms and with many people sharing our posts, we received overwhelming support from not only LSE students and staff but the public as well. Across three days, we had over 60 volunteers helping us sort the donations and carry the boxes, received more than 150 boxes of donations, and raised over £4,500 for the Red Cross Ukraine Appeal. Although we’re no longer accepting material donations, we continue to urge everyone to donate any amount that they can to charities like the International Red Cross who have teams on the ground in Ukraine and Poland equipped to deliver humanitarian aid effectively and efficiently. If you would like to donate, please consider giving through our JustGiving platform: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/ragukraine.
Hype: During Women’s Rights Week and Pride Week, RAG often gets involved. What have you done in the past during these events?
LSE RAG: Women for Women is our charity partner for the second year in a row, so we’ve been happily fundraising for women survivors of war throughout this time! For this year’s Women’s Rights Week, the skydiving team (who also happen to be fundraising for Women for Women) organised a ‘pie in the face’ fundraiser where students paid £3 to shove a generous dollop of shaving cream and whipped cream onto volunteers’ faces, in the name of charity of course! Last year, in the midst of Covid, we had a virtual discussion with Women’s Rugby on ‘Tackling Stereotypes: Female Empowerment in Sports and Beyond’. During Pride Week, we had a stall giving out free donuts and rainbow lanyards, and gave students the option of donating any amount that they wish towards Mermaids, an LGBTQ charity. One of the LSE halls of residences also had a bake sale with proceeds heading to Mermaids.
Hype: What exciting plans does RAG have coming up this year?
LSE RAG: We have teams of students taking on a few exciting challenges over the summer: skydiving, cycling from London to Paris, summiting Kilimanjaro which is the highest peak in Africa, and trekking the UK Three Peaks! A fashion show and RAG gets Lost are additional examples of what we are organising at the moment. Lost is where students are dropped off at a mystery location and have to work in teams to find their way back to LSE as quickly as they can, and without spending any money—all whilst completing a set of quirky and random challenges! As this will be an inter-uni collaboration with Bristol RAG, we can’t wait to see how everything unfolds! Since the academic year is nearly over, RAG will have our annual celebration with the LSE Volunteer Centre as well, to highlight some of our charitable achievements, and we will generally busy ourselves with planning for the upcoming year.
Hype: Finally, what is one easy way for a student to become involved in raising and giving?
LSE RAG: There are plenty of opportunities for students to get involved! They can participate in a challenge, run for a position in RAG, vote in committee elections, nominate and/or vote for RAG’s charity partners, host or volunteer at our fundraisers, attend anything that RAG organises, give us feedback, inform us of any potential sponsors or charitable initiatives, and much more. We would advise students to follow us on social media—we are particularly active on Instagram—and get in touch with us! There is something for everyone at RAG and we could always use some additional help!