Having previously worked for the Probation Service, we have been referred to as 'do gooders' on more than one occasion.... we suspect it wasn't always intended as a compliment! We recently looked up the term: a well-meaning but unrealistic or interfering philanthropist or reformer. So what about kindness, commitment to something you believe in and just trying to take steps to honour that, even on a small scale? Is it unrealistic, a sentiment for derision... and what if you want this to be part of your business?
The end of our first full financial year felt like a good time to take stock and reflect on this aspect of our fledgling business; one which was very important to us but which we have noticed we haven't really done a whole lot to share. Maybe we were nervous about how this work would be perceived and interpreted, of coming across as worthy and try hard? Worrying what other people think can be so destructive and disabling to getting things done, can't it?! Anyway, we are biting the bullet now and just getting the information out there just as we did in committing to doing something rather than nothing at the beginning of our business. For one, you, our lovely followers have helped make this possible and we wanted to share (dare we say celebrate?!) what we have achieved and not feel self conscious to be open about this. If you've followed us for a while, you'll know how much we believe in the potential positive benefits creativity can bring to people's lives and well-being. Our aim at the very beginning was to find a way that we could spread this joy a little further. We were aware that the price point & set up of our workshops meant it would be difficult for some to access our feel-good modern crafting so were keen to look at how we could engage a wider audience and make it more accessible, especially for those who may normally feel excluded. We looked at other businesses and how they were 'giving back' and were inspired by work by the likes of TOMS. We wanted to choose an idea that was catchy and simple to help gain maximum buy-in and after considering a few options, the 'buy one, gift one project' was put into motion for a year's trial; although it has actually extended to one and a half years. So for every (luxury) workshop space sold, one would be gifted to charity.
What was the plan? How would it work?
After weighing up a couple of practical options, we decided that it would be most manageable to pool 'gifted' places and offer group workshops to local charities with established client groups. The deal worked as follows: the charity identifies & co-ordinates things their end to get a venue and of course guests; We offer a range of craft options for the charity to chose which they feel will be most appropriate and interesting for their clients so the gifted workshop may not end up being the same as the one initially bought. We set aside money from each workshop place purchased to buy craft materials and donate our time for the planning & delivery. We set about contacting some local charities close to our hearts. We also put word out amongst our workshop guests to gather contacts and hear suggestions of charities who we could also approach. We thought it would be easy to gift workshops - we recognised that budgets are tight in the voluntary sector for this sort of thing and we were offering a 'free' package. Due to our previous careers, we were police checked and experienced at working to engage groups. There was lots of research and evidence mounting in support of the benefits of crafting and art to promote emotional well being, self esteem and positivity. What could possibly go wrong?!