What is Dry January? How (and Why) Can You Get Involved?

By Elliot Green

06 Jan 17

Dry January is a term trademarked by the charity Alcohol Concern, but it is a campaign espoused under different names by several other charities, too. The idea is a simple one: participants abstain from alcohol for a month.

Dry January is a term trademarked by the charity Alcohol Concern, but it is a campaign espoused under different names by several other charities, too. The idea is a simple one: participants abstain from alcohol for a month.

But what's the rationale behind this practice? There are the obvious health and monetary benefits, particularly well-timed after the often indulgent and almost always expensive festive period. Giving your body a chance to detox can only be good, and cutting out the empty (and considerable) calories in alcohol can have a significant impact on any weight-loss related New Year resolutions.

It's more than a personal health-kick, though. Charities such as Alcohol Concern and Cancer Research use the burgeoning tradition to raise awareness and start conversations about some of the more harmful, long-term effects which alcohol can have. The practice is becoming so popular, and comes at such a suitable time of year, that the NHS chose the beginning of last January to issue new guidelines for healthy alcohol consumption. In a country famed for underage drinking, binge drinking, and almost daily trips to the pub, cutting down on units could be hugely beneficial, particularly as health services become increasingly strained. It's not just the demand for medical attention that can result from a particularly hedonistic, catastrophic night, something which the Head of the NHS expressed great concern over ahead of New Year's Eve, criticising "selfish" revellers for taking up valuable time and resources as ambulances are called out to aid them in states of extreme inebriation. Treating the fatal diseases which heavy drinking can cause in the long-term costs the NHS huge amounts, too.

And charities hope to do more than spark conversation and encourage people to make healthier choices throughout the year. Participants are encouraged to raise funds for charity by asking for sponsorship as a reward for their sacrifice. Money then goes into vital research about how to tackle alcohol-related cancers, into supporting individuals and their families as they struggle with alcoholism, or, in fact, for whatever charitable endeavour you choose.

If you do decide to get involved, there are a lot of options available to organise your fundraising. You can opt for the traditional pen, paper, and cash in hand if you're a little more old-school. But using online platforms allows you to reach many, many more people, even strangers often see a worthy cause and decide to donate if it pops up on their Facebook or Twitter feed. Approaching a stranger in the street and asking them for money almost always yields very different results. It also prevents you from having to chase people up for weeks after you've completed the month of sobriety, and makes it much less likely that people will forget to cough up. The ease with which they can pay online is another great benefit for both parties, as your sponsors won't need to remember to take cash out to give you, and you won't be walking around with wads of bank notes to go and deposit.

With the various fundraising platforms available, how do you choose which to use? There might be a few different factors at play here, but there is one thing which every fundraiser should ask themselves: Do you want every penny that you raise to go to your selected charity? Or would you rather a percentage get taken off and kept by your fundraising platform? For a huge amount of fundraisers, the latter is happening. Don't fret you don't have to revert to the pen-and-paper method. There are alternatives out there.

One platform which guarantees that every penny will make it to the charity is this one! It was created for that very reason, so you can feel assured that none of your money is being kept by the platform. Our creators were unhappy about the way that some for-profit fundraising platforms misrepresented themselves and withheld money from charities, so they decided to create an alternative, and try to spread the word so that people could understand what was happening. To help everybody make more informed choices, we even created this handy table which shows whether you have to pay to use different platforms, and how much the charity eventually receives from every £10 donation (+ Gift Aid) on each platform (every final figure is different, so never say that all fundraising platforms were created equal).

With Wonderful, there aren't any sign-up fees or membership costs. Just set up your account, fill in your story and charity to let people know what you are doing and why, and send out your link to sponsors! You can even sponsor yourself with the money that you would have spent each week of the month on drinking. At the end of the month, you'll be healthier, better rested, and have the proud feeling not only of having had a more productive month, but of having raised money for vital and good causes.

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