RAG stands for Raising and Giving and is a student society run within the UK and Northern Ireland. RAGs can come under a variety of names including RADs and Karnivals etc. For the purpose of this article, I am going to use the term RAG as it is what I am most comfortable with due to my past RAG experience. RAG has a huge history and it has been running for many years, collectively raising bucket loads of money for charity! The purpose of RAGs is to raise money and offer opportunities for students to get involved with fundraising!
According to online sources, the Oxford English Dictionary states that the origin of the word “Rag” is from “An act of ragging; esp. an extensive display of noisy disorderly conduct, carried on in defiance of authority or discipline” and offers citation from 1864 explaining this word was known long before that! There are different theories about where RAG came from, some even believed it derived from the act of collecting rags to clothe the poor in the Victorian era by students!
RAGs do many things in order to aid student’s unions and other students to get involved with fundraising, this includes having close partnerships with charities and often providing the chance to travel overseas by fundraising! ChooseaChallenge.com is a common partner used by many RAGs for their excellent overseas trips which I had the pleasure to embark on!
Many RAGs have a “RAG Week” at their university. This week is there to give RAGs the chance to show off about the work they are doing, recruit for their overseas treks and at-home marathons, and also get more members to join their society, as well as of course, FUNDRAISING! In these weeks we tried to get many people to join our society and played fun small games with passers by in our students’ union!
Another thing that RAGs are often involved with are RAG Mags! These are fun magazines which RAGs publish including the treks that are being offered throughout the year, donation and volunteering opportunities and information about what the RAG is working on that year. There is some conflict over who had the first ever RAG mag, but it is thought they have been around since at least 1923! This is an amazing piece of history for student fundraisers to carry with them!
The challenges I mentioned above are often run by RAGs in partnership with chosen charities after they have gone through a due dilligence process, testing their ethical ways and seeing if they are safe. The students are recruited by the RAG and they fundraise a particular total in order to travel across seas to amazing places such as Machu Piccu, China and the Atlas Mountains. Often, the students raise the money and half will go to the charity and half towards the expenses of the trip. RAGs often also run marathons and other simple fundraising events such as bake sales.
There are other challenges which RAGs are famously known for and these include “jailbreaks”. These events come in many forms and often involve scenarios such as races where students have to travel as far as they can without spending any money, get dropped of in mystery locations, or try to swap with other universities for a day by travelling with no money! These events can be super successful and people sponsor the students to do them by donating money.
Of course, RAGs are known as being gurus of fundraising (hence my charity guru title!) and they know how to get a lot of money raised! One way that RAGs tend to fundraise is by doing “raids”. “Raids” are street collections, involving RAG students taking to the streets and asking for donations to go in their buckets. They often come prepared in fancy dress and they are really fun events! “Megaraids” are very similar to these “raids” except they are often longer and bigger with students taking over London or fundraising over an entire week on the streets.
RAG is an awesome thing to be involved with and when I was at university it was the one thing that filled me with passion. I embarked on overseas challenges and learned tons about fundraising! If you want to join your university RAG, why not go and see your activities/societies department and ask the best way for you to get involved!?