It’s been a rough couple of days here. I decided to move from my beloved webhost in the US to a smaller, less expensive webhost in the UK. I moved 7 WordPress blogs and 5 other websites. What a learning curve!! I think almost everything is back to normal now. This site has a fresh look with a few more features. I think I am liking it. Now that the dust is settling, I can finally get back to stitching more.
My charity stitching is winding down for the year. At the beginning of the year I made a resolution to stitch a maximum of 1 charity square per month. By April, I had already exceeded that, so I stopped raising my hand to stitch more until next year. I do still have a couple of projects going, so I am not completely done. I do have a gallery going of the projects I have done so far this year – 18 for various groups, 1 for family family, and several small ornaments. I still have 1 charity square in progress, 2 more in line, and an annual Christmas ornament SAL to do. This is July….
Mind you, I am not complaining here. I am commenting. I always have these family things creep up on me, or shop deadlines and I have not stitched what I had planned to do. When my stitching hours were taken over by school, I did not cut back on my charity obligations. In fact, I think I took on even more – with less time to do them!
So, I think it is time to get off of here and stitch. Spidey is calling me! I am in a Facebook group that does a lot of stitching events and I need to have 1100 stitches done on him in the next two days. I have 400 done…. we can do this….
Stitchers are givers in so very many ways. We give our hearts and souls to the recipients of every single piece we work on, whether we give them to family members, keep them for ourselves, or donate the pieces to charity. I have limited wall space, and don’t really have family here in Finland. For many years now I have worked with different volunteer and charity groups. There are some great ones out there that really do an outstanding job helping others, and there are some totally lousy ones that do a great job – at helping themselves. That’s not to say that helping yourself is a bad thing. It’s only bad if you are not up front about it. I recently got involved with a group that sounded really great in the beginning but turned into a nightmare.
But how do you figure out who the good ones are, and who to stay away from? Here’s my current list of guidelines. If you have others you want to add, please do leave a comment!
Target – do your donations go where they should?
There are horror stories out there of people sending completed panels to be used for hospital donations only to hear later that they were used for fundraising efforts.
Communication – do they let you know promptly when your donations arrive? When they are due? Where to send them?
The good charities post pictures and send you emails when they get your donation. They have active social media groups that tell you clearly where something is to be sent and when. The others? They just leave you guessing. The bad ones won’t even tell you when you ask if your work has been received.
Transparency – Do they make all the decisions behind closed doors? Are they open about what has been received and what they have done with it? Do they publish pictures? If so, where?
This is the big one for me. Who decides where your items go? Do you have a say in what goes where? Many groups do fundraisers or beg for donations of supplies. What do they do with them? For most of these groups, the biggest expenses are postage. Each stitcher provides their own fabric and floss as well as chart, so there really is little need for donation of these items! There are exceptions, of course, but 95% of the time, the volunteers have their own supplies!
Hidden Skeletons – Are they a corporation? What kind of perks or salaries to the board members receive?
This is another minefield. If the group is an organized charity (think Red Cross), they have a board of directors and do have to provide all kinds of reports. They have to employ accountants to do these reports along with filing tax returns. Who pays the salaries? If the group begs for supplies, what happens to them? Are they sent to the volunteers to use for stitching, or do the board members hang on to them and use them for personal gain? What kind of track record to they have? Can you find their record on their website? Do they even have a website?
Other aspects – How easy are they to work with? How approachable?
Many groups today use Facebook or Yahoo Groups to stay in touch. Yahoo can be a bit tricky, but Facebook seems to have taken over. When you ask to join their group, how long does it take for them to respond? If you ask for information, do you have to wait for a week for someone to get around to answering you? How active are they? Do the members seem to be friendly?
Please don’t think it is all doom and gloom out there. There are a lot of great groups to work with that benefit every cause you can imagine. There are also more rip-off artists posing as charities that just want your donations for their own personal need and greed.