Crafting4Good CIC is a social enterprise that aims to make people feel good through creativity, whilst also caring about the environment.
"CIC" means Community Interest Company: so we're a regular craft business with a bigger purpose and where everything we do benefits others, particularly vulnerable and underserved communities. We're officially registered as Crafting4Good CIC but also use Crafting for Good, because we found that's what people tend to use anyway.
Legally, we're a nonprofit which means all surplus money and stock is put back into running the organisation and benefiting communities.
However, a more appropriate term might be 'not-for-personal-profit' because as a CIC we need to trade in order to generate funds to keep going and give any profit, or surplus, away - so the more profit made, the more everyone benefits.
A normal business makes profit for it's owners and shareholders, but we make a profit for people and our communities, especially those who need support with mental health.
We receive donations of unwanted art and craft supplies and put them to good use, avoiding landfill and supporting community work.
Most of our donations come from individuals who may have too much stuff to use it all, have had to stop creating due to age or disability or bereaved family members. Increasingly, other businesses are donating their end-of-line art and crafts, seconds, offcuts and samples etc.
We split donations between selling supplies at affordable prices to suit all budgets, and we give the rest for free to groups and organisations, mostly in Wakefield and surrounding areas which have high levels of deprivation.
Processing all those donations and running our shop and eBay creates jobs, young people's work experience and volunteer opportunities which also supports wellbeing and resilience.
People tend to think we're bigger than we are, but we only have the equivalent of 2 full-time staff and a small, but growing team of volunteers!
Many of our staff and volunteers have lived experience of mental health, neurodiversity, physical disability and challenging life situations...but they also know that creativity helped get them through and feel they want to 'give something back' because of that.
Our Founder and CEO has a Psychology degree from York University with a particular interest in Positive Psychology, which studies the science behind wellbeing and resilience.
She was a single parent for 10 years, having had post-natal depression, experienced a devastating bereavement and faced losing her house.
This was many years ago, before Facebook and mainstream blogging, but she began working 'online' to try turn things around - at the time, the very notion of working at home, never-mind using the internet to do so, was a strange thing to do but it gave the flexibility that was needed.
Having learned how to create websites from scratch while the kids were at school, she provided free craft resources and ran online craft communities, bringing people together from around the world in a way that meant she was being creative and supporting people, without realising it.
People would say how being creative made them feel better, new friendships were formed across the globe and time was spent getting lost in creating and forgetting about worries.
Our CEO wondered, if all this could happen online imagine what could be done 'in the real world' whilst also using supplies that people no longer wanted, thereby making creativity more affordable, accessible and eco-friendly whilst supporting mental health and wellbeing at the same time.
The journey into the real world began with Christmas Craft sessions in a men's hostel. It started with printable cards and craft downloads available in our online shop, but then actual, real craft donations started coming in from people on Facebook and thus Crafting4Good CIC was born, in 2017.
Eastmoor Community Centre, Wakefield agreed to fund our first office space, which meant moving out from the home office, setting us on the path to further funding - our first big grant was from the National Lottery Awards for All.
With the Lottery grant we moved into a building next to the Community Centre but we outgrew it within a year and moved into 'proper' retail premises in a local shopping centre in Wakefield thanks to the "Makey Wakey" partnership started by The Art House, a charity which supports community-based initiatives, which gave us use of a lovely retail shop for a "peppercorn rent", also known as 'free' in return for a quick exist if the shop was let to another business.
Our shop was a treasure trove for creative people, with affordable prices, free supplies and a place to come and chat. We were there almost 4 years but sadly had to move out in July 2023 as our space was needed and we couldn't afford the new rent.
2023 was a very stressful and challenging year and we're effectively starting from scratch again, so we're focussing on our community work and backlog of donations in 2024 and recently got a UK Government Levelling Up grant to help us to do so.
We also work with eBay through their eBay for Change programme for social enterprises and Fair Trade organisations around the world, so that is our focus too as we get back on our feet.
Locally, we've reached thousands of children and adults through affordable and free supplies given to groups and our involvement in community projects. You'll see examples of this around our website, although we only had time to upload a fraction of what we did!
We also have an Art Therapist to provide accessible sessions around using art as therapy, exploring life through art journalling and even Virtual Reality Creativity in residential care homes and community groups.
By 2023 we had received 7 tonnes of art and craft donations, and we only started counting in 2020!
Much of this might have ended up in landfill, but we've been able to put it to much better uses in the community and to generate income to keep going, sustaining local jobs and volunteer opportunities etc. We credit our DIY website for much of this stock mountain and have recently been awarded a UK Government Levelling Up grant to help us process it, and open up again to receiving donations in the future.
The following article was written about our CEO's personal journey after she chose to build Crafting for Good's nonprofit website herself, with the same company that taught her about building websites that work back in 2006, when she was a work at home pioneer!
This is also where the Tortoise comes in.
"Shelly" is the mascot for Solo Build It!, reminding us that building an online presence takes patience and that 'slow and steady wins the race'. The company also sent a real, pewter Shelly through the post many years ago, which our CEO uses for inspiration and a reminder to persevere when times are hard.
Thanks to our website we found ourselves under a never-ending stock mountain. People from all over the country would be searching for where to send their donations and they'd find us over and over again.
Most websites are built to look fantastic, often costing a lot of money, but when the designers have finished and hand it over to the charity, social enterprise or small business they tend to find that very few people visit their shiny new site, even if they manage to find time to keep updating it with content to attract free visitors.
Our website, on the other hand, is very affordable
and brings in literally tonnes of donations worth thousands of pounds.
Why? Because we do it ourselves, with an 'All-in-One' system of tools, research and support.
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