Knitting and Fundraising for Charity, Part 1: an Introduction
A multiple-part series introducing some key aspects of knitting for charity fundraising
If you’re thinking of fundraising for charity by selling your knitted items, you have a few options. You can participate in craft fairs; you can offer items for silent auctions or raffles. You can even set up your own online craft shop via Etsy or another such online presence.
Schools, communities, and churches often hold events where handmade items are sold. Keep an eye on your local newspapers or magazines to find out about these. Check their social media and other Internet presences too, as often they will present news about such shows and fairs.
If you can’t find a local event and are willing to do a small amount of traveling, check out the Fairs and Festivals.net website, where you can browse events by state. If you’d rather sell online, check out this page that lists 29 Places to Sell Your Handmade Creations. (The latter page is 5 years old, but nearly all the links are still good.)
From my own personal experience, I can tell you that some of my most brisk sales have come from posting the things I’ve made on social media. If you’ve knitted something you’re particularly proud of, feel free to share it. But be ready to receive at least one request to make it again!
If you have (and take) an opportunity to have your own booth at a fair or bazaar, I’ve found a couple of links that you might find helpful.
The Psychology of Sales at a Craft Show
Craft Fair and Trade Show Tips from Experienced Sellers
What to Knit for Fundraising
If you have the opportunity to create items for a fair or temporary bazaar, or for a silent auction or raffle, you might wonder what would be the best things to knit. I’ve found that when it comes to selling knitted creations, items should fall into one of two categories (and preferably both): practical and whimsical. The second part is the most important, because your creation needs to be something unlike what potential customers might purchase elsewhere for less.
(While you might be able to tempt some shoppers with the knowledge that proceeds will benefit a charity, that probably won’t be enough for everyone!)
For “practical,” this primarily means kitchen and bathroom items. Things like washcloths, towels, coasters, and certain kinds of cozies tend to be very popular. Hats, scarves, and mittens can also be popular, but with the caveat that they need to be unique in some way. They need to be exceptionally beautiful or exceptionally interesting. (This actually goes for kitchen and bathroom items too, but if they’re well-made and not too high-priced, that might not matter as much.)
Another great “practical” category is bags. The smaller the better, for both you and them! Coin purses, phone and tablet covers, and glasses cases are all good choices. Again, the more spectacular you can make them, the more likely they’ll be to sell.
Now, let’s consider the “whimsical” category. As mentioned earlier, this can include practical items, but consider creating some charming toys, brooches, or hair clips. Children will find toys irresistible, and if you make them small enough, their parents may have a hard time resisting as well. (I share this reluctantly, as a parent with a daughter who loves to beg for toys…)
In the posts to come, I’ll offer collections for many categories of these strong sellers. If you’d like to knit hats, check out the many posts on Knitting for Charity with hat pattern collections here. Want to knit scarves or cowls? Try these posts. Finally, if you love knitting mitts and mittens, try these collections.
Be sure to check out Part 2. Here you’ll find a large collection of some of the most delightful washcloth and dishcloth knitting patterns you’ve seen — perfect for fundraising for charity!
Hi Nicole – I just read your article re preemies for Haiti. Is it too late to send you some hats before Labor Day as I saw that Debbie is going over in October. I have five hats made but would love to make more. If I am too late for this year I will save to send you next year. Thanks for doing such wonderful things for charity.
Hi Barbara! Definitely not too late, so go ahead and send those hats to Love a Child. You can always send more later if you end up making more. Thank you!