Donations to Sew Mama Sew’s soft toy drive held to benefit the National Foster Parent Association.
Photo courtesy of Kristin Link
Crafters are compassionate people. When tragedy strikes and people are suffering, we want to help. Making things to donate directly to those in need, or auctioning off our handmade wares to raise money can both be effective ways to use our collective talents for a greater good. When you decide to organize a charity craft drive, there are a few important steps you should take to ensure that the effort is effective and follows legal regulations. Be sure to also reference our Giving Guide: How to Make the Most of Your Charitable Donation for more helpful tips.
Will your Donation be a Blessing or a Burden?
Make sure handmade or donated goods are needed and wanted. When a community has faced a natural disaster, cash donations are often preferred over goods, which have to be sorted, stored, and distributed. This CBS News segment explains how donations often burden the organizations that are there to help.
▢ This donation will not burden the community I want to help.
Is the Charity Legit? Are YOU Legit?
Before you commit to raising money for an organization, make sure they are who they say they are and they will make good use of your donation. Sometimes crafters raise money for established non-profits, while other times there are grass-roots movements to do something kind (i.e. Quilts for Pulse.)
▢ I’ve researched this organization on Charity Navigator and know they’re in good standing financialiy and from a governance point of view.
▢ I will be distributing the goods or money myself. I’ve written a clear statement that includes:
- the purpose of the drive
- the instructions to contributors
- relevant dates (last day to donate, dates of auction, the dates I’ll be distributing products or money, etc.)
- a clear explanation of how I’ll be distributing the goods or money
- how I’ll be accountable (photographic proof of donations, letters, receipts, etc.)
Is the Charity on Board?
Before you begin raising money, find out if the charity is interested in benefiting from your project. Are they willing to help promote what you’re doing on their social media or even share a logo with you? (Charities are very protective of their logos and intellectual property and you never want to use them without permission even with the best of intentions.)
▢ I’ve contacted this organization and they’re excited to work with me.
▢ I have permission to use the organization’s logos, images, and other assets.
▢ I have a contact person who will work with me all along the way.
Do you Understand the Rules and Regulations?
Before you announce your project, make sure you know the full legal and tax consequences of your drive. Be careful of rules around raffles and auctions and providing goods and services to someone in exchange for a donation. (Whatever you do don’t represent yourself as a charity unless you’ve gotten approval to do that from the IRS.)
▢ I’ve considered different options for collecting donations. I understand the tax and accounting implications.
▢ I’ve researched legal issues regarding fundraising events.
▢ I understand the rules regarding raffles and auctions on the various social media platforms.
▢ If things go wrong, I’m prepared to be transparent and honest with my readers and followers, as well as with the charity.