Wherever you are right now, you are fortunate. Why? Because you’re reading this post from a screen of some kind, which means you probably have electricity. And most likely you’ve got a warm place to sleep tonight and enough to eat for dinner. We know that not everyone is so lucky.
Every few months there’s some kind of terrible news story that shakes us through and through. Watching it play out on television we are heartbroken for the victims and their families and we desperately want to help. That sentiment comes from a true place, but things often go wrong from there.
As someone who sews, quilts, knits or crochets, it seems like the best course of action is to start making things to send to the victims and those in need. After all, a handmade quilt, or a knitted stuffed animal, or a crocheted blanket is a warm and comforting thing of beauty that expresses our
heartfelt feelings of compassion for people who are going through terrible times.
Photo of Hurricane Katrina donations by Schnittkes on Flickr.
The truth is, though, that direct donations of goods, especially in the wake of a disaster, can truly cause more harm than good. Boxes and bags of blankets and clothes and stuffed animals pile up on the floors of warehouses, waiting to be inspected, sorted and distributed. The flood of donations commonly creates a second crisis of sorts.
Beyond the strain on already strapped volunteers, though, donating a handcrafted item is an inefficient way to help people in need. It feels good to make a stuffed animal to send to a child, but it just doesn’t make sense as a way to help. Here’s a sorta corny, but very truthful short video that explains this inefficiency. Take a look:
Give to charity. But instead of making a quilt, write a check and give it to a vetted charity that will use it efficiently. Particularly after big natural disasters, the most critical needs aren’t things that crafters can make and send. Things like jet fuel for rescue helicopters, life support equipment for injured people, and money to pay overtime for police and fire fighters are what’s critical. These are things that make the biggest impact and only money can buy them. An article by https://www.dugnadseksperten.no/ inspired me to volunteer more.
On a smaller scale, charities that work directly with people know what’s needed most. They can use your donation to buy goods directly from suppliers in a cost effective way, and distribute goods quickly and efficiently from an organized warehouse. Let them buy the blankets if blankets are what’s
How do you find a charity you can trust? If you live in the U.S., one option is Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator. Charity Navigator evaluates the financial health, accountability, and
transparency of 6,000 of America’s largest charities.
I asked Sandra Miniutti, the Vice President of Marketing and the CFO of Charity Navigator, how she would advise a crafter who might want to knit or sew for charity.
“We tell people it’s always better to donate cash, rather than goods,” Miniutti said. “If you truly want to create something and donate it to charity, there very well may be great charities out there that would love to receive handcrafted items. Once you find a charity that looks like a good candidate, just give them a call to discuss your donation. This would ensure that you don’t send them items that they can’t use.”
“I think the same idea goes for victims – it can’t hurt to try to contact the victim or a family member to determine if they’d be happy to receive the items.”
Photo by Jamiesrabbits on Flickr.
If you think about it, what charities need most is dedicated people and people cost money. A cash donation worth the cost of the yarn it would have taken you to knit a hat is more valuable to a charity than the hat itself.
But what if you want to give more than you can afford right now? “One thing you could do is make items, sell them, and donate the money,” says Miniutii.
It’s fairly common in the online craft community for people to announce that they’ll be donating a percentage of all sales from their Etsy shop to a particular cause. I think that’s terrific, but you need to be transparent. Are you donating all of the proceeds or just your profit? If you’re donating all of the proceeds, how are you paying for your materials? Keep in mind that you will be donating the money that would otherwise pay for your materials, listing fees, PayPal fees, and postage as well. Your donation has now created a loss for your business, which is okay if that’s what you want to do, but these are things to consider before you announce your intentions.
Photo by MoneyBlogNewz on Flickr.
Another common reaction to a tragedy in the news is for one craft blogger to start a drive of sorts. They’ll collect the handmade items, or the proceeds from sales of handmade items, and then make a single donation on the participants’ behalf. You should insist on transparency in this situation as well. If you’re part of a collective craft-it-and-sell-it for charity project, you might be better off sending the money to the charity yourself, instead of to another crafter, especially if they’re someone you don’t know well. And again, use Charity Navigator, or another resource, to check out the charity. Most charities are managed well by people with good intentions, but some are terribly inefficient and a few are straight out frauds.
In times of tragedy we want to come together as a community and take action, even in a small way. As Miniutti points out, “Sometimes people just need to do something. I think this is why runs and walks are so popular for health causes. They may not do much to enrich the charity’s bottom line,
but they give people an outlet to come together and do something.”
I think we should give to charity, as crafters and as people, but we should be sure to optimize our generosity by doing it right.
By way of disclaimer, my husband works for a large, regional charity as a fundraiser so there’s a lot of charitable fundraising and management talk in my house.
Erin Erickson says
This. I often feel peer pressure to participate in these drives, but I know my $10 or $20 or $50 is so much more helpful as cash than as a quilt. We had this discussion on FB and I was basically smacked down with “Beggars can’t be choosers.” Meaning, I think, that if you lose your house and all you have is a handmade quilt someone made for you, you should be grateful? But how would you eat? I would prefer they eat. So yes, this.
And thank you for the link to research charities!
Wendi Gratz says
When Hurricane Sandy hit there were a lot of calls to collect quilts and other handcrafted items. I had a quilt I wanted to donate but – honestly – it took a ton of time to make (making it a “special” quilt) and the Red Cross kept saying what they really needed was money. I decided to do a silent auction on my blog with bids in the comments. The winner made their donation directly to the Red Cross, forwarded the receipt to me and I shipped her the quilt at my expense. Easy. Transparent. And a far more useful donation to the people that really needed it.
This year I’m planning an “adoption” event near the holiday season. I want to sell all my softie samples (cleaning out my studio) and give 100% of the proceeds to my local animal shelter. I still haven’t figured out the logistics of it, but I think I can make it work. Again – my readers get the stuff and the charity gets the money. I like it. 🙂
FANTASTIC!! Love the ideas. Thank you.
Thank you for this. It reminds me of that recent commercial, with origami dollars folded into hammers and nails and buildings and canned foods to show that money is what is usually needed in these huge relief efforts. Although there are some great smaller opportunities for crafty efforts, like blankets for dog shelters or hats for premature babies or the effort to get stuffed animals to the children of the school shooting earlier this year (to show that most people are good in the world), it’s always best to check first to see what’s needed. Usually it’s money.
Sandra Miniutti says
Thank you for such a thoughtful post about how we all need to ensure that we’re smart donors – not just in how we pick charities, but in how we support them too!
Yes!! Thank you for writing this! Donating handmade goods is very well-intentioned, but sadly it’s inefficient. Simply put, it actually costs a charity their valuable (and scarce) resources when they have to take in tangible donations.
I love this approach, Wendi. Youre able to give a nice donation to a charity that is known to do good work, your customers know that they are contributing to the cause, and youre not pretending that someone will benefit most from the quilt or the softies themselves. Beautifully done.
I think what you said here about the way in which in-kind donations help us know that there are good people in the world is important. As the folks at Charity Navigator said, it is certainly possible to find charities that would be happy to receive your handcrafted item. Just check first.
Thank you for helping me think through my ideas about this topic, Sandra, and thank you for providing such a valuable tool for us to evaluate charities were interested in.
That is simple, and elegantly put, Patty. Thank you.
Rachel L. says
This is so important to think about. The urge to do something in hard times is good, but it’s better to do the most good you can. So true.
My experience in donating handmade goods to auctions for charity the past year has had me reevaluating my approach, too. Often the winning bid for my handmade items are so low (a fraction of my regular retail prices), that I think the next time I’m asked to participate, I’ll just donate the cash value of the item I would have donated to the auction. That will do more good. (And save me from rumpled feelings in the process!)
And Cash Man is my new hero.
Rachel, Ive had the same experience with auctions. I dont donate handmade items anymore. A sewing lesson, though, will get bid up higher than what I normally charge so thats what I give to the school auction. Isnt Trash Man awesome!
What a fantastic idea. I’ll keep in mind donating a lesson when the opportunity comes up.
Great post, you are right money is so much more useful to give and if you look there are charities that will take handmade goods like some refuges that love donations of quilts and toys.
Hayley P says
I’m so glad you wrote this! I feel like I’ve seen a dozen or so blog posts about donating handmade items to certain causes in the past month. And I’ve always wondered if handmade goods were something truly needed in the wake of these tragedy/disasters. I always felt guilty knowing that I had the talents bloggers were calling for, and yet I wasn’t doing anything. Now I will feel so much better about not participating, knowing that the money I donate is a much better option!
lucykate crafts... says
great post. on a much smaller scale, after Kathreen at Whip Up sadly passed away, I’m sure many crafters gave thought to things her children may be in need of. Having has Kathreen as a mum, I’m certain that handmade items isn’t something they are short of, the education fund that has been set up is a much more practical way to help isn’t it.
Your post is both well and poorly timed for me. I just made my first charity quilt and post it today. It’s something I’ve long felt guilty for not doing. However your post has really made me think and in future I will endeavour to help in the way most needed. Thank you for talking about this!
Dona Reynolds says
Great article! I donate to my local children’s hospital and crisis nursery. The children are not only sick but scared and love to have something special to hold either in bed or in their wheelchair waiting for a procedure. It also brightens the day of the parents. And in the crisis nursery, the children are being dropped off at a strange place and need something to hug. Come over and visit my blog and you’ll see what I mean. I actually have a closet at the hospital on the 3rd floor. I check it every two weeks and add more – it’s always empty. And the kids get to take them home too! Please help your local hospital, crisis nursery, foster care, whatever is in your town.
Thank you so much for posting this, Abby. You’ve eloquently expressed what I’ve been feeling about charity donations for years, and it’s nice to have those thoughts validated.
Thanks for this. However, I have found a very good charity for which I crochet squares that are sewn into blankets for AIDS orphans in South Africa. They accept knitted squares too, and I believe there are groups in the US that collect the squares locally to send them to South Africa. The charity is called Knit a Square (knit-a-square.com). However, they are also VERY pleased to receive money donations. As they say on their site, they need the money for all the work that turns around the blanket squares, be it collection, storage or distribution of the squares and blankets. So yes, find a charity that accepts what you like to make and donate, but don’t forget that they need money too.
Youre quilt came out beautifully, Aoife. Thank your for your comment.
Im so glad to hear that Casey. When I was doing research for this post I couldnt find a single blogger who explained charity crafting this way. To me this was a topic crying out for deeper exploration.
I thought of you, Dona, while I wrote this. You do terrific work on an intimate scale with people in need right in your community. I think what youre doing is fantastic.
Caroline B says
Food for thought here. I feel that unless the charity specifically asks for items (blankets for dog homes etc.) then it is far better to give the money. I’ve given items for auction several times on request, but if there is a worry about an item not reaching it’s full value, why not put iton your Etsy shop for full price with a paragraph specifying all profits go to the charity concerned. I did this once and sent a copy of the receipt from my donation to the customer.
What are your feelings on people who come out of the woodwork from some tiny unknown charity asking for items who then get snippy with you when you refuse? This happened a while back and even though I was very polite and explained that I couldn’t give to everyone as it would start to eat into my own profits, the lady in question then got a bit snarky. For all I knew, she could have been anyone who just wanted a free painting. I came away feeling quite uncomfortable – perhaps that also falls into the internet nemesis category!
I love when I get to catch up on my While She Naps reading, because I know it will always be evocative (Nemesis) and usefully informative (Charities, Ads)! Your content is so well-done! I really appreciate it, even though my reading is sporadic.
Thank you so much. Im so glad to hear that.
A big part of putting your work out for public display is developing a thick skin. People sometimes ask for things that you cannot provide, and then become upset with your response. Its just part of doing business, you know? Youre a professional and you respond professionally, and thats about all you can do in those situations.
Hello! I love reading your blog- this post reminds me of a book I’ve been trying to get hold of recently- “It Ain’t What You Give, It’s the Way That You Give It: Making Charitable Donations That Get Results” by Caroline Fiennes- have you read it, and if so, what did you think? I’m not sure if it addresses the giving stuff (especially home crafted) versus money issue, so it was great to read about it here.
On an unrelated note, I wanted to let you know that I made a Chick & Egg Reversible Softie for my friend’s little boy, and I finally got to give it to him this weekend. It was a massive hit!- he’s about 14 months, and he kept handing it back to me to change over for him as well as carrying it about! Thanks for a great pattern- please do more reversible toys! How about a book of them? (Hee hee!)
Thank you so much for this post! Confirms thoughts I’ve had for a long while now.
I found out recently that talking directly to the organization you want to help is definitely the best way to go! Wanting to make a donation of tutus to a local children’s hospital, but not being sure there was a need, I contacted them and found out they had an annual ‘prom’ coming up and did need a specific number of tutus! I was able to fill their specific need and they didn’t have a surplus!
Thats terrific, Daphne, and just speaks to the fact that physical goods are often desired by charities, but it makes the most sense to check first to be sure youre sending exactly the right things. Im so glad this worked out for you and for the hospital, too!
melissa q. says
I’m so glad you posted this, it’s something I have thought about a lot. There is such a wonderful and genuinely beautiful desire to help out and I appreciate that so much but, sadly, handmade items aren’t always efficient. I do think there is still and time and place for handmade items. When Hurricane Sandy hit out area a local church was working with communities on the Jersey Shore and they said they needed warm hats for people who wanted to sort through the remains of their homes but they had lost everything and it was cold. So, I organized my troops and we made 150 hats that were distributed to people who actually need them. It involved making something that people actually had a need for. It worked but only because of the person-to-person connections involved. Sending them to the Red Cross would have been pointless. I also think that sometimes items sent to a hospital can be wonderful…time in the hospital is so sterile and inhuman, a handmade item can do a lot of good. As long as you know that the hospital needs it! But, yes, much of the time it’s really a longing to make things and have it ‘feel’ like it’s going to a good cause…rather than it actually meeting a need. Cash is a good, good thing for charities. Have you heard the podcast about this? It was great! It was one of the TED talk/NPR collaborations. You’d love it. Your husband would too.
Youre so right that handmade items can be exactly the perfect thing in times of need and as long as you are checking to be sure youre creating the right things and delivering them to the right hands it can be the most generous thing you could possibly do.
I would love to hear the podcast about this topic. Do you have a link?
melissa q. says
It wanders all over the place on the topic of giving but I loved the Dan Pallotta portion. But, I have to say the whole podcast is really fantastic.
I haven’t read that book, Katie, but it looks interesting. Thank you for the recommendation.
And I’m thrilled that you made the Chick a& Egg toy and that it was well received! I love designing reversible toys so there will definitely be more to come.
That’s terrific, Aishakenza. If there’s a charity that you really feel dedicated to, a combination of in-kind and financial donations, or volunteer hours, can be the very best thing. Thank you for sharing your experience.
I sell a crochet lymph node pattern where part of the cost goes right to my favorite charity, Stupid Cancer. I do my best to send a confirmation email to the people who did buy my pattern. Now I’m wondering if there’s a better way for me to raise money for Stupid Cancer and sell my pattern. What I’ve done with my smaller lymph nodes is sew a pin to the back of it and I wear it in place of an awareness ribbon. My lymph nodes get people actually talking about cancer with me, which is the point of a ribbon, right?
You’ve given me great food for thought. 🙂
Wendi Gratz says
I just wanted to add one thing to the discussion – For disaster relief I do like to just send money (or auction something off where the money will be donated) but lot of people mentioned ongoing needs at places like children’s hospitals. This is a great option for folks who want to donate something very personal – that will be an emotional help for a specific child. I recommend contacting the hospital first though, and ask them specifically about content requirements. Some hospitals (and some wards) have very specific requirements (like maybe no synthetic fibers, or it has to be able to be sterilized in some way) – things I never would have thought of if a nurse hadn’t told me about it.
Thanks for this great insight into donating handcrafted items. There is also much to gain from the experiences your readers have added in the comment section. Another possibility for such donations is to see if charities in your area or that interest you have thrift or second hand shops. I use up scraps from larger projects making doll clothes. None of the girls in my family are doll age any longer, so I end up with boxes of doll clothes. In the past I have donated to online auctions, but recently learned that the assisted living facility where my mother is a resident has a thrift shop on site. Donations provide an inexpensive shopping experience for seniors and their guests, and proceeds go to a fund that helps residents should they have financial difficulties. It’s a win, win, win situation.
The other great thing about Knit a Square is that the squares are sewn up locally in South Africa so its a response from both the local and the international community to the AIDS crisis. But they too are plagued by donations that are too small leading volunteers to spend many hours trying to size up stuff! So yes always always check that you are sending what they need not what you want to craft.
Just wanted to stop by to say that we linked to this article from our blog (PeoriaCorps) because it has great information for crafty people who want to donate. Also wanted to put it out there that occasionally there is a perfect opportunity for talented people (like the readers of your blog!) to put their skills to use for charity in a way that is wanted and needed. We do an annual hand-made blanket drive for the agencies in our town where we ask for donations of blankets (from no-sew fleece blankets to handmade quilts) that go to individuals in shelters, low-income housing, and people who don’t get holiday presents. While it’s true that we can certainly use cash donations as well, we absolutely love it when we get to give someone a beautifully crafted quilt or blanket that helps keep them warm when it gets cold.
Just wanted to let you and your readers know that, if they keep their eyes open, there are definitely times when crafting for charity is exactly what’s needed. Keep up the great work!
Yes! Handmade items are made with love and contain that energy long after the disaster or crisis is over while cold, hard cash is……just that. Rather than just sending stuff to the Red Cross it would be far better to visit a shelter and hand out blankets and softies to the kids personally so they don’t end up in the sort pile. If not possible then sending electronic units or paper money makes the giver feel like they are doing something to help.
I take great care in making quilts and knitting hats and booties for hospitals so the recipient has a lovely item of value that surpasses a mass produced sweat shop item sold at WalMart for a couple of bucks.
Abby Glassenberg says
Thank you so much, PeoriaCorps. I appreciate the link, and the point that there are times in which a handmade donation is very much in need.
Kristin S. says
Awesome idea! I’ve wondered the same about donating blocks to our quilt guild. The raffle or sale of the quilt could raise more money and be more useful while someone who really wants the quilt ends up with it. Everyone wins.
I’ve been doing my Sewing for Orphans project for a couple of years now, sending boxes of dresses, shorts, messenger bags, etc. to the orphans I had worked with in Tam Ky, Vietnam. I got plenty when I asked for sewn items, but almost nothing when it came to cash donations. Every box costs me at least $100 to mail, plus I had to pay for the taxes in Vietnam. I was hopeful that people could help out with those costs, but it didn’t really work. I still collect items from people and hope to take them over myself in the fall since my contact there is no longer available to disperse the donated items to the orphanages.
Point is that the cash people can donate is just as (or even more) important than the actual items.
If crafters want to donate items they have made, they should check with there local hospitals, foster care organizations, crisis nurseries, etc. We have a large children’s hospital here in Spokane WA – Sacred Heart Children’s Hospital. I work through their foundation and take in 40-50 handmade children’s pillows, dolls etc to the different sections of the hospital every two weeks. And within that next 2 weeks, they are almost all gone. Children who are ill, suffering with cancer, and scared need something cuddly to hold onto. 10.5″ pillows are perfect. Think of the crisis nurseries. Many of those children are dropped off and don’t know anyone and are alone. Foster kids have nothing. There are many places who want donations. Just call around and check before you take them.
Abby Glassenberg says
That’s very true, Kristin, especially if you were able to raffle it to a group of people who truly appreciated handwork and quilting. If a quilt brought in several thousand dollars (which is what it’s certainly worth!) you could really have a significant impact!
Abby Glassenberg says
Wow, that’s an amazing thing you’re doing Teresa, even at significant personal cost. It sometimes feels better to donate a tangible good than it does to just give cash, but your efforts are a case in point of the cash needed to get those goods to the people in need.
I donate money to charities that clearly need just that, but focus my crafty energies toward charities with specific needs for handmade items. My favorite is Mother Bear Project, where I have crocheted and donated now 73 teddy bears for children in Africa. I hope to make it to 100 by years end. I also donate quilts to Project Linus and crocheted slippers to The Pink Slipper Project on FB, for women and kids in domestic violence shelters. It’s my way of sharing a bit of kindness in a difficult world and money can’t do that all of the time.
That’s terrific to hear, Peggy. It sounds like you’ve connected with charities that are well equipped to handle handmade items and you’re so right that an act of kindness is really worth so much in people’s lives.
Hi whilst I am all for sending money to charities please be careful I once worked for a charity and I was gob smacked as to where the money actually went it was distressing if you could find a family that needs the help you would be better of giving straight to them but then you also have to be careful that the people just don’t waste the money it is a hard decision these days
I totally agree. Charity Navigator is a great tool to use to vet charities before you decide to give. Their ratings will tell you how much of the money you’re giving actually goes to the recipients in need. It’s vital to do your research no matter how you choose to give.
This is true some organizations are overwhelmed with donations of handcrafted items that they either can not use or are inappropriate. I would suggest contacting the charity you are interested in helping as some of them will only take handmade donated items. These organizations will give you the pattern and list of materials that they want you to use, or just the pattern. Many of them want just the supplies to be donated so that their local volunteers can make the items. So if you don’t have cash to give, call the organization that you wish to be of service to and ask them directly how you can help them out in a way that is most useful to them. After all its not about you the donor, but about those who will ultimately utilize your donation.
Great suggestion and a great perspective. Thank you, Susan.
I must say that, although I fully see the point in the article, I feel it gives an unbalanced view of the subject. Yes, for disaster relief, it is somewhat pointless to provide handmade items, HOWEVER, there ARE tons and thousands of organizations that GLADLY accept and seek handmade items – these items are actually the foundation and core of these organizations’ programs. If you would like to dedicate your time to giving in this more personal way, just make sure to give the items to an organization that will appreciate them properly; rather than dropping them off at a critical relief or such organizations that need substantial cash for medicine, fuel, etc, make sure to seek a local orphanage, children’s hospital, nursing home, etc. It is a matter of doing your research and choosing HOW to appropriately help (as per your personal preferences and beliefs.) I feel that while this article’s comments are factually accurate, it undermines the value and power of donating handmade items appropriately – these handmade items are equally important in the “giving spectrum”, they simply have a different purpose than cash. I believe the post/article’s title is not appropriate as the article is not reflective of “the real truth” and it implies all handmade items sit abandoned in some storage room somewhere – the arguments are, I fully agree, representative of an important aspect of donating handmade items (an aspect that is indeed very often misunderstood or disregarded by the donor) but mention of the emotional value of PROPERLY donating handmade items is lacking in the equation (and it makes all the difference!) Artists: just make sure your items are falling into hands that really want and appreciate them!! Sincerely, Thais.
Hi Thais, Fair point. Thank you! There are definitely ways to give handmade items to people in need. As you emphasized, be sure that the organization truly needs them. Project Linus comes to mind, for instance.
While it is true that money is easier to use, it is also true that money is MUCH easier to misuse. For example, paying employees of the charities exorbitant salaries. I refuse to donate money to any charity with payed employees. There are a lot of very good charities run entirely by volunteers. You mention transparency as being very important, but your disclaimer that your husband earns his living by taking a cut of the donations is in tiny print at the bottom article. You are hardly an objective party.
Running a charity well requires the same skills, talents, education and experience as running a for-profit business. It’s not realistic to think that people who work in the non-profit sector shouldn’t be fairly compensated for their labor.
Pauline Perry says
Your article is a real eye opener to me. At the moment I am (WAS) busy making baby and children’s quilts for the 80,000 + displaced people in Fort McMurray Alberta – BUT now I see that the cash will be so much more efficiently and wisely used to provide the many essentials that are needed. I think crafts people want to donate their personal skills in comfort items like quilts and toys etc. because that is what they do best, BUT it is truly not what is needed right now at this stage of disaster. I will continue to donate my baby and children’s quilt to my local Women’s Shelter where I live – I take them in personally to the office and I know that they get to where they are needed.
Thank you for your always beautifully written articles on so many subjects, and this one in particular. Great information and a game changer for me – cash it is! Love Cash Man.
I’m a litle late to the party but I figured I would comment in case there are more people like me who stumble across this post. Honestly, I can see where everyone is coming from with the money being better but some people simply can’t give money. So if you have some yarn and needles lying around, make that blanket or socks or whatever you want to. There are charities that need it ALL. Most people do just hand over money so organizations are looking for handcrafted items. Handcrafted items provide comfort to those in tragedies, soldiers, etc. It is a more considerate gesture to show these people that they are loved and appreciated, even by strangers.
I agree! Nothing wrong with giving money, but as someone who volunteers at a non-profit that sends books and toys to Africa, I can assuredly say that if a charity is specifically asking for items, they will use them. Keep in mind that a big portion of monetary contributions is used simply for shipping/logistics. Obviously small donations add up, but for me personally, if I am planning on making a small donation (say, $25), I usually choose to use that money to make multiple handmade items. Don’t forget that it is often difficult for charities to get toys/hats/etc. of good quality at a good price- especially if the charity is a smaller local charity and doesn’t necessarily need to buy in huge bulk.
Finally- I like the idea of crafting for charity because I crochet/knit to help with my mental health, and I feel bad because I don’t have any children/young family members to craft for; if you’re spending time on a hobby for fun, there’s definitely no harm in doubling its purpose and donating the product!
I’ve been looking online for an organization that would sell people’s crafts for raising money for charity. There are many people who would buy handmade hats, scarves, sewn goods and other craft items especially if most or all of the proceeds were then given to charity. I agree, that sending stuff is not nearly as helpful as just giving cash. But surely crafters could still use their skills and generosity for good. Does anyone one know of an organization or website that does this?
I find this completely dispicable! It is an insult to crafters and just one person’s opinion and way of belittling others for their efforts. I am sure this blog makes you proud but it should not have. You have also basically accused people of theft or probable theft. I do craft auctions to help rescues all the time and it forms community and allows those of us who help animals consistantly to help each other. You need to come down off your high horse. I know the article is old but I was hoping that you would have revised your opinion or would have been gone. Insulkting crap!!
Hi Sheila, I don’t think I’m accusing someone of theft. I think there are ways to donate handmade goods to charitable causes that do good, but I also know from talking to people who run charities that monetary donations are the most flexible and most useful. I realize that isn’t easy to hear.
Sherri Lynn Wood says
Not directly on point but related – I would also really love to see guilds making WITH people in need within their communities – like refugees, or impoverished youth for example – instead of FOR them. Quilting and making together can be empowering for both sides and can build bridges of understanding between class and race.
Hi, Abby — a friend reposted this blog essay on FB today. I am sure that there are quilters all set to ship bales of quilts to Houston right now. That conjures an image of waterlogged quilts. (Though a photo in this morning’s newspaper showed a man at a shelter with a quilt draped over him.) I agree that cash to a reputable organization is the best contribution (unless you’ve got a bass boat and a high-wheel pickup and time to drive to Texas to rescue people).
I do contribute quilts to fundraisers. I know they don’t bring in tremendous funds (especially for silent auctions). Since I don’t have each donation quilt appraised I can’t claim an accurate tax deduction. However, I am flattered by the compliments. (One woman tells me each time I see her that when her grandchildren visit they love to snuggle in the string-pieced quilt she won in a raffle. Another invited to come to see the quilt she won, draped over the settee in her living room. I remember Vera T. telling me that the wallhanging she won hung in her bedroom and she said a prayer for me each day. (Knowing her, she really did, and it was genuine.)
I donate a t-shirt quilt (their shirts, my sewing) for our Rotary golf outing. The winners are thrilled with their quilts.) Furthermore, if I didn’t make quilts I would drown in fabric. Sure, I can give quilts away (and I do) but I can also give quilts to causes — someone else gives money to the cause and in exchange they get a quilt. I think it’s a good deal.
That’s a good plan 🙂 Keep in mind that you can only deduct the cost of the materials you used.
Thanks. That’s helpful. I saw some of what you are talking about during the Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge fire last year.