University of Canterbury student Bridget Williams and recent graduate Rachael Gresson have come up with a new initiative that encourages people and businesses to support local charities in a unique way.
These two lovely ladies are really passionate about helping the community. With their different backgrounds in student and community support – Bridget was president of the Student Volunteer Army for two years, and Rachael was on the UCSA exec – they are the perfect candidates to encourage others to connect local people with local issues.
So Two Weeks Without is a social enterprise that facilitates challenges for individuals and businesses, who choose to go without something for two weeks. The element of choice as well as the scope for creativity and flexibility makes this fundraising initiative unique. Challenges can be done anytime and anyplace, and therefore can be designed to suit any lifestyle or business model. Businesses can either do a challenge together or do departmental challenges for a bit of healthy office competition. Two Weeks Without offers a mutually beneficial arrangement as it’s a fun team-bonding exercise that will generate great PR for the business, as well as support a worthy local cause.
Rachael and Bridget first took their idea for Two Weeks Without to Akina Foundation’s Launchpad programme for growing social enterprises, making it to the semi-finals. Feeling encouraged and inspired, the ladies then approached the UC Innovators programme, which awarded them a scholarship and a place in their Summer Start-Up Programme for young entrepreneurs. With the help of these programmes, Bridget and Rachael have now successfully launched the enterprise, which has been running for about 10 weeks.
To test the Two Weeks Without model, Bridget recently went two weeks without shoes to raise money for Help for the Homeless and Rachael went two weeks without make-up to raise money for Husky Rescue. Each of their challenges were quite successful for first attempts – raising around $200 each for their charities.
Bridget and Rachael have also organised a large challenge to replicate and test business participation. 100 UC students from the Emerging Leaders Development Programme will be challenging each other in 10 teams of 10 from Feb 27 to March 13 – each with a unique sacrifice. Although the final decisions haven’t been made, Bridget said some of the ideas so far include not looking in the mirror, no coffee, no sugar, no cell phone, no bed, no hot water and no walking – instead having to hop, skip or jump. Each team will choose either Husky Rescue, Help for the Homeless, or the White Elephant Trust to donate their funds to. See this page from the Two Weeks Without website for more info about these charities and why they were chosen.
I think Rachael and Bridget have come up with a really fun way to engage people with local charities and community issues. It would be so fun to do a challenge together as a flat or study group, and even more fun to challenge each other to see who can raise the most with their crazy sacrifice!