The varying approaches of colleges towards charitable donations are reflected strongly in their budgeting. Almost half of the JCRs that spoke to C+ told us that they operated a voluntary charity levy, normally of between £5 and £10, with students deciding where to donate the money at JCR meetings.

“The charity levy at Trinity is generated once a year to, unsurprisingly, raise money for charity. Each member of the JCR is charged £10, except for those who have opted out, a number which tends to be very low,” explained Tom Carter, treasurer of Trinity College.

He added, “All the money goes into a charities account and at the last JCR meeting of each term, people can put forward motions on which charities to support and on how much each of them should be given. The JCR then votes using an AV system on which charities to support. Simple.”

However, a small majority of JCRs told C+ that although they did not allocate a specific proportion of their budget to charity, or place a charity levy on members of the JCR, they had a Charity Rep to oversee fundraising and donations.

LMH JCR President Aadit Shankar told C+, “Because LMH is a registered charity we cannot simply allocate some of our annual budget to other charities. Instead, we try to create a culture of charity and generous giving within the undergraduate body with events and campaigns throughout the year. LMH participates in the university-wide RAG events, and has a charity committee comprised of staff, students and academics which meets regularly during term time to organise events.”

Likewise, some colleges, whilst not allocating money directly to charity, provide cash for fundraising events to be held. Oriel JCR President Kit Owens explained, “The JCR’s Charities Rep organises a number of charity events each term, including bake sales, charity formals, charity auctions and casino nights. Money from the JCR budget is used to facilitate those events.”

Oriel JCR Charities Rep Zara Milne remarked, “Last year our most successful fundraisers were probably the Charity Las Vegas Night — which involved a RAG casino and a charity auction — and the college Live Below the Line campaign, which raised over £2,000 for Afrikids.”

Some JCRs, however, stressed that their charitable donations came both from their students’ fundraising efforts and through voluntary levies. Worcester JCR told C+ that the Charity Rep was allocated £100 towards fundraising per term, and over the course of the year, students had raised £6,400 independently of the £7 charity levy billed to students in two of the three terms of the year. 

Conversely, University College JCR told C+ that they allocate approximately £300 per term to charities through standing orders. These funds are neither raised through specific levies or through the fundraising efforts of the students, but come from the budget itself. Univ JCR say that this typically amounts to between £700 and £900 going to charity over the year.