Everyone who enjoys crafting has their own reasons for doing so. Some people find it a relaxing creative release. Others do it to create decorative items or gifts. Still others craft as a means to earn some extra money. It seems that there are nearly as many reasons to craft as there are crafts.
One of the best reasons to break out your glue gun or knitting needles (or other crafting tool of your choice) is for charity. Organizations around the world partner with crafters to create much needed items for people in need. Whether it’s warm hats and mittens for the homeless, superhero capes for hospitalized kids, or cards for soldiers serving overseas, regardless of your level of skill there is some way to get your craft on for a good cause.
Want to get started? Follow this handy guide.
1. Find Organizations Looking for Crafts
Organizations that accept handmade items as donations tend to fall into one of two categories: Those that request specific items using specific patterns and/or materials, or those that will accept any handcrafted item that fulfills a need, i.e., hats or blankets for the homeless. You can often find organizations looking for crafts online (be sure to do your homework to be sure that’s it’s a legitimate and worthy organization) or by contacting your local craft store. Many local and national organizations partner with craft retailers to recruit crafters, so check with your favorite store to see if they know of any opportunities.
2. Review the Requirements
Every organization has different requirements for the items they will accept, and some have strict rules about how items need to be created, packed, and delivered. For example, organizations that accept greeting cards for soldiers prohibit the use of glitter, since reflective loose glitter can actually put soldiers in danger in active war zones. If you are making hats for babies in a NICU, you need to choose yarns that are extra soft but also durable to hold up to washing and drying in very hot temperatures. Again, every organization has its own rules and preferences, so confirm before you begin crafting.
3. Consider a Charity Crafting Event
In some cases, you may be able to craft for a cause without actually donating your handcrafted items. Many organizations host craft-a-thons or social crafting events to raise funds for a worthy organization or cause. In most cases, to attend one of these events you simply purchase a ticket to reserve space in the event venue, and then use that space for creating. Another option for entrance is for attendees to give away unneeded items to charity for entrance, from small items all the way up to donating jet skis and even boats.
Often, local supply vendors are on hand with their wares, and will donate a portion of their proceeds to the designated charity. During these events, some time may be devoted to creating items for charity — participants in a scrapbooking event may be asked to create a card or two for the troops or a local hospital — but the majority of the time is spent socializing and working on your own crafts.
4. Donate Your Crafts to Fundraisers
Are you a master quilter? Are your crocheted creations the envy of the bus stop? Organizations hosting fundraising events, particularly auctions, craft fairs, and raffles, are always looking for high-quality items to give away or sell. Reach out to organizations that are hosting such events and offer to donate your creations; you might even find a market for a lucrative side business.
5. Beware the Unwanted Donation
One of the most important things to remember when crafting for charity is that no matter how well-intentioned your donation may be, if the organization cannot use it or it doesn’t meet their guidelines, you are wasting everyone’s time and resources. Many charitable organizations note that the influx of donations after a major disaster in particular puts a strain on their resources, since staff and volunteers must spend time sorting donations that could be spent on more impactful activities.
Therefore, again, it’s very important to follow instructions closely, and if you aren’t sure if your donation is welcome, to call and ask before showing up with a pile of handmade teddy bears that no one can use. In those cases, donating your time, cash, or requested items instead is a better option.
Crafting to help others is the best of both worlds: You get to enjoy one of your favorite activities, and give back. It’s a win-win for everyone involved.