Charity inspiration interview - Little Bundles
Little Bundles is a small charity that believes all families have the right to the essentials when having a child.
The shopping list can be extensive when expecting a baby – clothes, moses basket, pram, high chair, car seat , to name but a few. Many are lucky enough to be able to afford these items, or have friends or family who offer their child’s hand-me-downs. However, Little Bundles came about due to the realisation that some parents are, unfortunately, in neither of these situations. We spoke to the lady at the forefront of Little Bundles, Julia, to find out more about this fantastic organisation. We wanted to gain an insight into how it works and whether, like most charities, they have come across any challenges or hurdles along the way. More importantly, we wanted to learn how these issues were overcome, and any advice she could offer to other small charities looking to make a big difference.
How and when did Little Bundles come about?
Little Bundles was founded in August 2008 after months of ideas flowing around. It took us a while to explore the various routes and channels - we just knew that there were families desperately struggling and in need of baby items, while there were others who wanted their child's second hand belongings to go to a good home.
How exactly does Little Bundles work?
We want to find people who are genuinely in need – those who find themselves in difficult circumstances such as being involved in domestic violence or homelessness. We therefore decided that, rather than dealing with the families directly, we would leave it to healthcare professionals – midwives and social services – who directly refer people.
How many of you are involved in the charity?
Overall, there are around 12-15 actively-involved volunteers, with a core committee of six. Almost everyone involved in Little Bundles are mothers.
What would you say is the main challenge Little Bundles faces?
Our main challenge is, without a doubt, storage. For a long time we were juggling supply and demand – it's not like retail where you have control over you orders; all items are donated second hand items. Luckily, we managed to receive corporate help in the form of free storage. The cost of paying for storage is huge, so this has been a saving grace for us. We came across so many helpful people while networking, and this is how the free storage opportunity came about.
You managed to overcome your storage issues. What could other charities learn from this?
I've always believed that charities should aim to focus on costs before fundraising. While fundraising is important, if you keep a close eye on your costs and explore ways in which they can be reduced, you'll need to put less efforts into your fundraising. Last year, we barely did any fundraising whatsoever! Channel your energy into doing rather than getting wrapped up in the 'business', as this can be so time consuming if you let it. We also find that free advertising via social media works wonders for our charity. This way, the word spreads organically so we receive a steady trickle of donations, rather than an influx of items following a leaflet distribution, which can be hard to manage.
Have you come across any other hurdles along the way?
Our second biggest problem has to be people. It's finding the right people who are willing to put the time in. We've been extremely lucky over the years and have had some wonderful mums join us who are both caring and dedicated. However, it can be a challenge when it comes to their other commitments. Being mums, they obviously can't dedicate all their time all of the time.
How have you overcome this?
We have to have a very flexible approach. We are aware that everyone involved has a busy and often hectic personal life, so we allow people to do as much or as little as they can. We give people the chance to get fully involved, giving them dedicated roles and letting them run with it, but we also try not to get disappointed when they can't always commit. Sometimes, it's a bit of a numbers game – often we'll have twice as many people on the books as we need. We also try to keep in touch with everyone. It's so easy to have a remote community, but it's very important to meet face-to-face. Networking and immersing yourself in the local community is crucial - even the lady who re-designed and branded our website was a volunteer through networking. It's all about knowing the right people at the right time.
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