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By jennymeg On 03/19/04  

I am hoping to start this thread as a resource. . .

I've been approached by a few different causes asking for product donations. Usually it is for an upcoming silent auction or something. I'm not sure how they pick me, because the messages are pretty generic. . .

* Central Virginia Community Services sent me a loooong message requesting a donation (with all proceeds going directly to providing services for our children and families) - contact person Chris Compton.

*I totally missed the Lekkner deadline after reading about the opportunity to give on Bumble V's blog (guilty confession - still kicking myself - ouch!).

That's all I have for now. I am scoping out a couple of local opportunities. Does anyone else have info to post? I think we could all benefit from it. Oops. No pun intended.

By plainmabel On 03/19/04  

I got the CVCS one too and asked her where she heard of me -- she said she found a site with links to a lot of DIY sites. She said larger companies like J Crew are donating, but that she really wanted to add some unique, handmade stuff.

I'm doing one for my town's Montessori school, but the auction's in a couple days so it's too late for others to get in on it (I hadn't even thought to post info about it earlier, I should have!). But I'll keep my ears open for others in my area and post them!

By funkyutopia On 03/19/04  

i think that is a great train of thought jennymeg! even though we're all small businesses, we can still do our part and help out our communities. from what i've seen the fundraiser for sasha farms,, is doing really well! i hope that melissa with lekkner decides to continue hosting similar fundraisers and i'm sure there are a ton of glitterati ready to help out with their crafty talents.

i've seen quite a few small businesses giving back these days. my mom works for a local building supply company here in tennessee but also volunteers at the habitat for humanity every week. so, she is getting her company involved as well. i decided to jump in, too. so each time someone purchases something from my 'Thrift Shop' on my site, i donate $1.00 to the habitat for humanity in their honor. it may not be a huge check, but it is a bit that can do some good for the organization in the long run.

just browsing around on the internet and shopping at different indie designers sites, as i am addicted to doing, i've seen quite a few hosting charitiable events or sales contributions. i think it is a wonderful, wonderful way to do business! thanks for starting this thread, jennymeg. maybe we can get some real good ideas flowing about this topic!!


By ksue On 03/19/04  

Hey, thanks for starting this thread jennymeg.

I got the same email from Central Virginia Community Services - and promptly ignored it. Good for them for casting a wide net in terms of getting donations, but Virginia???? If I am going to donate to an auction it is going to be for something really local, or my absolute favorite national cause.

I have to say.... I donated two pieces to a local arts organization's auction over the holidays. Both pieces sold, which was great, but for much less than retail, and I of course donated a large amount to the organization. They did provide me with the names and addresses of the buyers, so I added those people to my mailing list.

After years of watching my boyfriend donate stuff to art auctions, I have become quite cynical about them. In many cases, people just come looking for a bargain (many who could afford to buy the piece at the regular price). The artist gets next to nothing, and nothing really comes of the exposure. I mean, OK, sometimes something comes of it, but in most cases.... it is a bit of a demoralizing experience for the artist who can't afford to give work away, even for a great cause.

At this point I would have rather given the 15 bucks or whatever directly to the art center - they asked such a low minimum for everyone's work, which I felt devalued it.

If it's a cause super close to your heart then I think it's an awesome thing to do - just keep your expectations in check regarding how valuable the exposure really is.


By jennymeg On 03/19/04  

For a LONG time, I had this regular customer who lived in Virginia. She bought most all of the coffee bean bags that I made so she could sell them at one charitable event for an animal shelter where she volunteered. So that's one reason why I'm leaning toward doing the CVCS donation. But I may ask in advance if the organizer has a preference in terms of goods that might bring them the most money. It IS for the organization, after all (any benefit to me would just be a perk).

I was once burned when I donated to my sister's theatre, for thier annual event. The thing with them is, I think they took for granted that they KNEW me, so they never sent a tax receipt. And this particular benefit has been going on for a while. I was peeved, since they actually did make a LOT of money over the retail price of the goods I donated. I even received notes from the people who ended up receiving the items.

By meandbdesign On 03/19/04  

I wanted to comment on this thread. I put together a benefit for the college radio station I volunteer for, WXDU. After visiting the Renegade Craft Fair website I was so inspired to create an auction for the station with handmade items! The products were amazing and the benefit was a huge success. My question is how can an organization such as WXDU give back to donors after the event has passed?

By cinnachick On 03/19/04  

This is actually how I got started crafting again and because so many people spoke positively of my work at auctions I began to participate in (lots of friends who work for non-profits) I decided to start a teeny-tiny business. I'm officially a small business (got my city license in the mail just this week) and I owe it all to non-profit silent auctions. I would agree that donating items to a non-profit isn't going to get nearly the "retail value" that you would say the item is worth. But the value you say it is worth is tax-deductible and whatever the organization gets is usually un-earmarked money which means they can pay the phone bill, buy toilet paper, and pay for printing costs which are some of the things that they can't do with grant money.

If you're interested in donating items to your groups in your area, narrow your focus down to what areas you are intersted in. I deal with a lot of domestic violence agencies, my local NOW chapter, homeless shelters, etc. Once you know what you want you should be able to find what organizations are available and then contact the fundraising arm of those groups and ask to be notified of deadlines for silent auction donations. Not a lot of publicity but sometimes they let donors go to the event for free and then you can mingle with people and hand out your business card.

And I think any crafter would love to have their business name or website address mentioned in an online PSA.

By glassygirly On 03/19/04  

Giving is good.. There is an organization in Austin called Blue Dog Rescue. They are a non-profit and what they do is they go to shelters and rescue dogs that are on death row and about to be killed. They also accept dogs who have been abandoned or stray. They don't have a facility where they keep the dogs, they have foster parents who keep them while waiting to be adopted. Their site is I did an event (art fair) with them recently and it was a blast. They had dogs there to pet and people brought their dogs, live music, free beer & munchies & lots of crafty people. They are having an event on May 2nd called Perros de Mayo (dogs of May) and it is a silent auction at The Gingerman. They are very supportive of local artists (the founder is a jeweler) and it is such a great organization with truly incredible people. Anyone interested in this event or in future ones please feel free to email me. Great topic Jenny!

By jennymeg On 03/20/04  

I emailed Blue Dog Rescue for more info - thanks!

By ksue On 03/20/04  

(sheepish) me again - Just wanted to clarify that it *is* of course good to donate if it's a cause that is really important to you and I'm glad to hear that it is good exposure for some. My recent art auction experience just left me feeling like another head of cattle.... I also was put off by the place in VA emailing me, to tell the truth, as they were clearly just casting as wide a net as possible in order to get goods for their auction. Again, it's great to support a cause close to your heart (and close to your house) - I just am thinking that alternate ideas like giving a percentage from web sales from a certain month, etc. would both give exposure to the cause and be a lot less work on my part.

Sorry to be the voice of cynicism, but I've just seen how these auctions sometimes end up being demoralizing *and* do not raise much money at all for the charity in some cases. For me, and just for me, I'm trying other things.

That said, I think it's great to share info on good causes and good experiences with this!

(OK, I'm done now.)


ETA: In terms of how to give back to donors, free memberships or discounts on memberships or classes or whatever would be great. The art center auction I participated in *did* list the contributors on posters, etc. but the list was about 200 people long.... and they did not want to use people's business names.... People who contributed 100 percent of the sales of their items got a whopping 10 percent off classes for the coming year. Why bother? Sheesh.

I think I need to participate in another auction, just to fix my attitude about this!

By jesskbg On 03/21/04  

I attended a Hospice benefit last night. (Hospice is home care for the dying if you're not familiar with it.) It's easier on the family and it's growing. They're going to be the ones I contribute to. I know I'm not going to run into any problems, because my mother works with Hospice. The benefit last night was a jazz concert (The Preservation Hall Jazz Band... check 'em out), but around Christmas time they sell ornaments for charity. Last year they were sand-dollars. I'd like to get in on designing something especially for them. At least I know that it's a great cause and nothing is going to go to waste.

Man... I'm rambling today, huh?

By bammie On 03/21/04  

I see what ksue is saying about getting a little recognition for your donation; big corporations become sponsors of events for the publicity.

Previously, I've donated items upon request to orgainzations that happen to not be in my area but I like their cause. All I expected and asked for was a note after the event to hear how much money was raised and I never heard back from any. But they didn't waste any time putting my mailing info into their database to hit me up for more donations!

From those experiences, I decided to donate proceeds from the sale of certain items I sell on my site to an organization that I would be involved in even if I didn't run a business.

I guess people see that I'm already involved with one non-profit so they ask me for theirs because I probably get one or two requests a month. I even had one lady give me an entire sob story and then asked for my help, specifically money, not goods. Steamed me up a bit, but I guess some people have major guts!

By DivineMsEm On 03/22/04  

I love Blue Dog Rescue!! Thanks for reminding me about them. I am going to see what I can do in the way of donations for them.

Also Project Linus seems like a very good cause and I want to send some contributions their way. >

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