Photos courtesy of Warm Up America.
Crafters understand the care and consideration that goes into making things by hand. Creating handmade items for charitable causes demonstrates our compassion and our hope for one another. Knitting a hat for someone who has lost their hair due to chemotherapy or stitching a quilt for a veteran shows your love and care for people in need.
But not all charities accept handmade goods. We’ve rounded up 12 charities that do, including some that accept craft supplies as well.
Keep in mind that most charities need monetary donations more than anything. One way to use your crafting talents to support a charity of your choice it to sell or auction off a handmade item such as a quilt or afghan and donate the proceeds. But, for those instances when you’d like to actually donate handmade items here are a variety of regional and national charities that accept in-kind donations of handcrafted items. Cleaning out your studio? There are charities looking for donations of craft materials as well.
What about the tax implications of donating handmade goods to charity? We’ve covered those here. And if you’re organizing a drive to collect charitable donations from a community, use our handy checklist to ensure that you’re thinking each step of the project through. (Become a member of Craft Industry Alliance to access this checklist.)
When selecting a charity to work with it’s important to do some research. Be sure they’re still operating and have maintained a good reputation among donors and recipients.
Crafts Accepted: Knit, crochet, woven, sewn, fleece or quilted blankets
If you’ve been a part of the craft world for awhile, chances are good you’ve already heard about Project Linus. Eponymously named for the Peanuts character who was never without his trusty blanket, Project Linus provides homemade blankets to children in hospitals, shelters, and social services. Launched in 1995 in Missouri, Project Linus now operates local chapters in all fifty states. To donate a blanket, “blanketeers” are encouraged to locate their state’s chapter for local drop-off sites. There are several free patterns available, and the only criterion are that blankets be “homemade, washable, free of pins, and come from smoke-free environments.” Blanketeers are also encouraged to start local chapters and volunteer their time, if they can.
Crafts Accepted: Knit, crochet
Warm Up America! is another charity organization you’ve likely heard about due to its connections with one of the largest humanitarian organizations in America, The Red Cross. Since 1991, Warm Up America! has accepted hand knit and crochet donations of all kinds, from hats to scarves, baby clothing and more, but their largest and most well-known project involves the simple 7” x 9” knit or crochet rectangle. While you can make an entire afghan for WUA!, the organization welcomes donations of the no-fuss crafted rectangles because of how easily that particular shape can be joined to form blankets of all sizes. Basic patterns for the rectangles are offered on site, with the general number needed to complete different sizes. Finished rectangles can be donated directly to WUA or to local hospitals, nursing centers, and shelters. Volunteers can also offer their time to sew afghan sections by emailing the WUA offices. Warm Up America! might be just the thing for all your yarn odds and ends. Warm Up America! also accepts donations of yarn and needles. Pro Tip: Next time you make a swatch, make it 7” x 9”. It’s better and often advised to make a larger swatch anyway to ensure proper gauge measurement. At the end of the year, send all your swatches to Warm Up America!
Crafts accepted: Quilts
Quilts of Valor is another charitable organization accepting quilted blankets for former service members. The mission of the Quilts of Valor Foundation is to cover all service members and veterans touched by war with comforting and healing Quilts of Valor. Quilters can request a destination for their finished quilts to find a service member in need. The parameters for Quilts of Valor are similar—cotton quilts should ideally be sized 60” x 80”, feature patriotic themes if not colors, and should be gently laundered. Full requirements for Quilts of Valor can be read here. Quilts of Valor also accepts donations of fabric and quilting notions.
Crafts accepted: menstrual product sewn using the Days for Girls kit and pattern
Days for Girls increases access to menstrual care and education to girls and women around the world. Rather than resorting to using rags, mattress stuffing, banana leaves, feathers, and even cow dung, Days for Girls provides safe, beautiful, washable, and long-lasting alternatives along with vital health education. You can get involved by either joining a Days for Girls team in your area or starting your own. Teams sew kits using the Days for Girls patterns and receive support from a sewing specialist. Get more information here.
Crafts accepted: Handmade cards
Paper crafters with a surplus of stamps, ribbons, stickers, pattern edge scissors, gorgeous paper, and paper folding skills will love Cards for Hospitalized Kids. So will visual artists and fans of bricolage. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to get your whole family involved in a charitable act, as handmade cards are an accessible craft for even young children. Cards for Hospitalized Kids accepts both holiday cards and general cards, and the guidelines are simple. Crafters should stay away from anything that might detach from the card (glitter can be a problem) to protect the health and safety of the recipient. Otherwise, almost anything goes. Envelopes are unnecessary, and cards can be mailed directly to the organization in bulk. Volunteers can also host card making events or refer a child in need.
Crafts Accepted: Knit, spool knit, crochet, no-sew (hand-woven and worked fleece), sew blankets, pillows, mats, and toys
Snuggles Project is a program administered by Hugs Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to displaced and homeless animals. Snuggles are essentially crafted squares that can be used as a bed, blanket, or mat. The Snuggles Project accepts donations of “snuggle” pillows, blankets, toys, and even crafted baskets for animals to crawl into for comfort. Snuggles should be made with cotton or acrylic so that they are easy for shelters to clean. Snuggles are collected by your local shelter, with an international list found here. Any shelter with a “snuggles kitten” icon will accept snuggles, but you can also call your local shelter to ask if they accept blankets, mats or toys, in which case they can accept snuggles. More information and guidelines can be found on the Snuggles website. While Snuggles Project doesn’t currently accept crafting supplies, they do accept donations in order to provide supplies to the elderly so that they may help contribute to the project: consider it a double dose of charity.
Crafts Accepted: knit and crochet hats and baby blankets
Based in Costa, Mesa California, Knots of Love is a non-profit organization with the mission of warming the hearts and heads of patients experiencing traumatic hair loss. Volunteers hand-knit and crochet caps and neonatal blankets. Donations are meant to serve as a reminder to the recipients that they are not alone. Knots of Love handmade creations are distributed free of charges to hospital and treatment centers throughout the US. Patterns are available on the Knots of Love website.
Cards for Kindness: handmade cards that are blank inside
Part of Scrapbook.com, Cards for Kindness is a global initiative to collect and distribute handmade cards to provide people in need with an emotional boost, a smile, or a helping hand. You create a pack of handmade cards with no message inside. They organize and mail out the cards to shelters, hospitals, retirement homes, and other organizations in need. The cards are used by nurses, counselors, parents, and volunteers to write messages of encouragement and love to people in need.
Craft Supply Donations
If you’re sitting on a mountain of unused supplies, you can still help! The following organizations are more than happy to accept your relinquished craft supplies.
The Knitting Connection will accept handmade goods, but their real goal is gathering materials for volunteer crafters who turn those materials into items to donate to charity1. If you’re based in Boston, you can contact The Knitting Connection to become a volunteer crafter. Otherwise, they are always looking for yarn, knitting needles and crochet hooks, and pattern and instruction books for their volunteers. The Knitting Connection sends out crafted donations to children all around the United States.
Materials for the Arts accepts fabric and trim, paper, arts & crafts supplies, beads & jewelry, art books, paint, and more and distributes them to non-profit organizations and public schools across New York. Materials for the Arts prides itself on keeping materials out of landfills and putting them into the hands of those in need. Located in Long Island City, New York, art materials can either be dropped off in person or mailed in.
Located in Portland, Oregon, The Dreaming Zebra accepts art and music supplies to distribute to schools, community centers, and other non-profit organizations and encourages volunteers to set up a ‘recycling bin’ in their office to collect items from friends and co-workers. For more information on how to have your donation picked up or dropped off, click here.
A Little Something a non-profit organization that teaches refugee women in Denver, Colorado to earn money for their families by making jewelry to sell. Participants meet monthly to learn new techniques, choose supplies, and turn in finished work. The women in the program receive 75% of the proceeds from each sale with the remainder going to purchase more supplies. A Little Something accepts donations of jewelry-making supplies such as 49-strand beading wire, sterling silver crimp tubes, crimp covers, all types of clasps, closed jump rings, Swavorski Elements-type beads, plain white and yellow beads, semi-precious stones, and alligator clips. Check their website for an updated list.
Do you have a favorite charity for donating either handmade items or craft supplies that we didn’t list here? We’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Flossie Arend is a writer and editor living in New York City. She likes to read (sci-fi, fiction and non-fiction, true crime, horror, and comic books), write (see previously stated genres), knit (selfishly), play video games (obsessively), and watch television and movies. She's worked for Stitchcraft Marketing for seven years.