When faced with a crisis, many victims feel they have nowhere to turn. Rape Crisis Centres offer a refuge and a beacon of hope to survivors, ensuring that they receive the best quality medical, mental and emotional care. Rape Crisis Centres are community-based organisations that work to help victims of rape, sexual abuse and sexual violence. These centres may serve a state, city, a college or any other community.
Rape Crisis Centres are integral to a person when in need. They offer emergency support, individual counselling, medical attention, legal advocacy, community and professional education, emergency shelter and more. Some Centres extend their programming and partnerships to offer childcare, pet care and other assistance.
Many Rape Crisis Centres are certified non-profit organisations, meaning they are supported in large parts by the generosity of their community. This support can be financial or voluntary. As part of The Pixel Project’s “16 for 16” campaign, we present 16 ideas for supporting your local and national rape crisis centres. These recommendations range from digital to in-person and from voluntary to monetary. They are simply a starting point for the many unique ways you can support rape crisis centres around the world, ensuring they can continue their missions of serving those in need.
Written, researched, and compiled by Rebecca DeLuca
Idea recommendation #1: Support the centre’s social media efforts
Rape crisis centres and other nonprofit organisations across the world are turning to social media to reach supporters and those in need. They offer educational tools along with resources such as crisis hotline phone numbers and live chats. By supporting your local rape crisis centre on social media – through liking their page, following them on Twitter and engaging with their posts – you help to share that life-saving information to a lot more people, and help them reach those in need of their services.
Idea recommendation #2: Volunteer
Working with a limited budget, most rape crisis centres only have the operating budget to support a small number of staff. Thus, volunteering with your local rape crisis centre ensures they are able to serve more people in need. Volunteer positions vary from administrative tasks, outreach programming, and managing phones. Furthermore, many rape crisis centres will provide its volunteers with detailed training.
Idea recommendation #3: Offer pro bono resources
Your technological skills may be valuable to your local rape crisis centre, more so than simply volunteering. These skills include design, legal, accounting, computer science and more. Many rape crisis centres are in need of these skills, and offering your services for free allows the centre to spend their small budget in other areas.
Idea recommendation #4: Invite them to speak at your events
When planning an event for your school, business or community, consider the ways you can include your local rape crisis centre. When appropriate, your local rape crisis centre can set up a table to recruit volunteers, handout business cards and other information, or provide a short introduction before or after the event.
Idea recommendation #5: Become an advocate
An important way to support a rape crisis centre is ensuring that those in need are aware of their services. Becoming aware of the programmes your local centre provides, understanding the process, knowing the hours and having emergency phone numbers handy will ensure people can connect with the services they need. Asking your rape crisis centre for business cards with important information, or making your own, is an easy way to ensure you have the most accurate information with you at all times.
Idea recommendation #6: Support fundraising campaigns
In the majority of cases, rape crisis centres are certified nonprofit organisations, meaning much of their operating budget comes from the financial support of their donors. Rape crisis centres may fundraise year round, or for specific campaigns supporting special programmes. Financially supporting your rape crisis centre ensures they can acquire resources necessary to provide services to those in need. If you are unable to support the fundraiser financially, you may consider becoming a leadership volunteer for the campaign, where you will help plan events and connect with potential donors.
Idea recommendation #7: Purchase and wear swag
Promoting a rape crisis centre will connect it with those in need and potential volunteers and donors. An easy way to do this is by using the products you receive in giveaways, or purchase from the crisis centre. T-shirts, water bottles, pens, and other swag items will promote the centre’s name and programmes, encouraging other likeminded individuals to donate or volunteer.
Idea recommendation #8: Attend Events
To fundraise for their programmes, many rape crisis centres host local events within the community. These events may vary from evening galas where tables are sold, to concerts, BBQs, and smaller events. Purchasing tickets to these events and participating in fundraising activities such as silent auctions will help the rape crisis centre continue their programmeming.
Idea recommendation #9: Support them in a walk or marathon
If you enjoy running, walking or biking, consider supporting a rape crisis centre in your upcoming marathon. Marathons and walkathons are perfect opportunities to reach out to your community of peers for small donations. Crowdfunding for a rape crisis centre will not only help alleviate stress on the centre’s financial budget, but it will introduce the centre to potential donors and volunteers.
Idea recommendation #10: Tell your story
If you have been helped by a rape crisis centre, consider telling your story anonymously or publicly. You can share it on your blog, or the centre’s blog if they have one, on social media, at an event, or allow the centre to share your story on your behalf. By sharing your story you will encourage others in need to seek out refuge, and you will help potential donors and volunteers understand the benefits of the centre, encouraging them to support the cause.
Idea recommendation #11: Graphics and Banners
During Sexual Violence Awareness Month in April, Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October or at any other time throughout the year, consider “donating” your social media profiles to the rape crisis centre of your choice. Donating your profiles are easy – you simply need to change your profile and cover photos to a specifically designed image which would include the name of the centre and emergency phone numbers. By donating your profile, you not only stand in solidarity with victims and survivors, but you provide life-saving information to your online network, some of which you may not know are in need.
Idea recommendation #12: Clothing and other in-kind gifts
Rape victims often have to turn over their clothes for evidence after a rape or assault has occurred, forcing them to wear hospital robes. Many rape crisis centres accept clothing and other in-kind gifts to give to survivors in their time in need. This simple action plays a small part in reducing the stress of the situation, and helps to give dignity back t the survivor.
Idea recommendation #13: Become a language advocate
Rape crisis centres serve clients who speak various languages. When in crisis, speaking to someone in your native language relieves some of the stress. If you are fluent in more than one language, working with your local rape crisis centre allows the organisation to reach more people and has the potential of making a troubling time easier.
Idea recommendation #14: Use your business
If you are a business owner, manager, or sell your own products, consider setting up a period of giving to support a rape crisis centre. During this period, a percent of your sales will be donated to the centre you have selected. You may also consider sponsoring an event. Both options not only benefit the rape crisis centre, but will be a source of promotion for your company.
Idea recommendation #15: Amazon Smile
Amazon Smile offers a unique way to support a rape crisis centre of your choosing. Setting up Amazon Smile is as simple as selecting the charity of your choice. At no additional cost to you, when shopping on Amazon via Amazon Smile, 0.5% of the purchase price will support the charity of your choosing.
Idea recommendation #16: Donate your cellphone
Many rape crisis centres collect old cellphones that are still in usable conditions. Traditionally, the crisis centre will receive funds from the cellphones you donate, and that money will have a direct impact on the centre’s programmes and services. In some cases, your cellphone may even be provided to somebody in need. Donating your cellphone or organizing a cell phone drive in your community not only benefits the environment but the rape crisis centre as well.