Disillusionment with the often anonymous and disconnected giving experience was the driving force behind a new network that aims to make philanthropy affordable, fun and democratic.
Ed Wethered, co-founder of Raise Your Hands (RYH), sees the network that launched in September 2014 as ‘the fly wheel’ of giving that will gear up the philanthropy experience allowing its 100 plus members to become more engaged with charitable causes as well as socialise around giving.
“Before we created RYH, my friends and I tended to give to charities because we had been asked to by friends, or because we wanted to get fit running a marathon or something - but our problem was that we never felt connected with the charity that we were donating to, ”says Ed who is typical of the values-driven millennial generation.
He explains: “We are less concerned with material things and more excited by experiences. Being able to support small charities and make the world better is a fulfilling and meaningful experience. We also see socialising and having fun as an important part of that experience. Being engaged with giving allows you to meet people you wouldn’t meet and do things you wouldn’t normally do.”
It was a discussion about unfulfilling philanthropy on a plane back from a 2014 holiday with co-founder Chris Kirkland that resulted in the formation of RYH, whose strapline is ‘give a little, help a lot’.
“The model allows members to have a real say and stake in where their charitable funds go as well as be part of a young, social and like-minded community,” says Ed. “We make giving easy, affordable and regular, and help charities that really need our help.”
Members, who must be over 18, join through the RYH website for as little as £10 a month, and pool their money in a tax efficient fund at Prism the Gift Fund that provides administration services and charitable status.
At the end of the year RYH members will be able to ’raise their hands’ and vote for their favourite charity of the six selected: all small, community-based organisations that are committed to helping, training, educating or rehabilitating young people in the UK in a variety of innovative ways.
“We are passionate about charities that think outside the box when looking at ways to improve the lives of young people, and we have selected the organisations accordingly,” says Ed.
The most popular among members will receive 25% of donated funds and the rest will receive a share of the remaining 75%. It means in September at a special event, one of them will receive more than £13k of a £55k pot, with the rest receiving an average of £8k each.
The charities being supported by RYH in the first year are:
- Switchback, that provides intensive mentoring for male offenders to support them in reconnecting with society
- Straight-talking, a charity that puts teenage mothers in schools to talk to children as young as seven about what it is like to be a young parent with the aim of cutting teenage pregnancy
- Storybook Dads that keep imprisoned parents in touch with their children by recording them reading stories for their children to hear at home
- Sport 4 Life UK, a Birmingham based charity that empowers children through sport
- Grief Encounter, that provides support for bereaved children
- Sparkplug, that provides alternative education, training and youth work for children and young people excluded from mainstream education, primarily through mechanical training on motorbikes
Each of the charities have been vetted by trustees, undergoing a questionnaire and two rounds of interviews. Next year the plan is for RYH members to be able to nominate charities.
A critical part of the model is communication and engagement: “We will regularly update our members through our digital newsletter, Facebook and instagram with news of the charities and of RYH as well as organise social events. Fun and networking is a part of the vibrant giving experience; we want our members to enjoy giving for what it does for others and for themselves,” says Ed.