As a "Community Interest Company" we are a social enterprise that has charitable aims but we are not a registered charity. We are a company, but we are not-for-profit. We are in the middle, between the two. This means we operate...
“with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.”
(Social Enterprise UK)
Being in the middle between a charity and a for-profit business has it's drawbacks; even though we're not-for-profit we can't get the benefits available to charities such as free software and advertising spend from big companies like Google, or accept donations through eBay or Facebook which would really help, but we're often not seen as serious business either by the for-profit sector, because we put people (and planet) first. We also rely on the help of Volunteers rather than paid employees which has it's own challenges in terms of time, productivity and what you can ask of the people who help you.
All of this means navigating your way through the best you can, making the most of the excellent support we have available to us, including the chance to apply for funding to help us get started and develop our vision of providing affordable, accessible creative opportunities for positive wellbeing.
Here we highlight the impact our funders have had on our development.
Crafting4Good CIC developed out of a work-at-home business and as with any startup there's a need for credibility, to be taken seriously. While running an internet business from home had worked for over 10 years, simple things like phone calls without barking dogs became problematic, not to mention meetings and the ever-growing donations that were piling up in the kitchen!
We looked for office space, even just storage space, but we never had the funds to pay the rent upfront. To remedy this, we applied to various big funding opportunities but always got turned down.
Then Eastmoor Community Project came along; we first knew of them after one of their Community Development Workers became a customer, buying printables for her craft group, but then our paths crossed further via mental health events.
To our absolute delight, Eastmoor Community Project were able to offer some office space in their community centre for 6 months, using their Reaching Communities funding from the Big Lottery Fund.
The intention was to give us credibility, through having a reputable address, a base to work from, a desk and bit of space to house a few donations but crucially it would give us that 'proof' of genuine seriousness to show potential funders. We moved into St Swithun's Community Centre, Eastmoor in Wakefield by June 2018, just over a year since we became an official CIC.
The effects of this initial funding were incredible. Almost instantly our 'street cred' shot up, as we were able to proudly say "we're based at Eastmoor community centre" when asked by other organisations where we were based.
From here we were asked to do interviews and write articles for various organisations, including being asked by the actual UK CIC Regulator for a blog post!
We also applied for a small pot of funding from Wakefield Council's Community Development Grant, to be able to stay in our little office for a further 6 months...
To be able to develop our ideas, we needed the security of knowing we could stay at the community centre for at least a year. So that we didn't have to worry about earning the rent, we applied for a Community Development Grant of £500 from Wakefield Council with the help of one of their Community Development workers.
To our delight we were awarded the grant, and immediately were able to plan for the full year at St Swithun's without having to worry about making sure we generated enough income to cover the rent (which would take us away from essential administration and developing our plans, we couldn't do everything at once).
The plans we had were to develop a Creative Hub at the community centre, to put the donations to good use, recruit more volunteers to help sort, organise and distribute craft boxes to community groups, use donations in community groups and public settings across our district and open a low-cost craft shop - all of this would mean people could access and get creative with supplies and techniques they might not be able to try otherwise.
Just a few months after we moved in, and because of the credibility of partnering with Eastmoor Community Project, the grant from Wakefield Council and our involvement with a local Mental Health Network we also found ourselves in a position to work with Wakefield Libraries on some exciting ideas for community crafting, including a Craft Lending Library which would be available through the library network in 2019.
But, just 4 months into our time at the community centre, we were fast growing out of our small office and desperately needed more space if we were to develop plans for our Creative Hub...
To be continued!