KasCare finances – January to March 2014

Hi again everyone!

We’ve had some feedback recently that our donors and members would like to know a little bit more about how your donations are handled. To that end, I’ve put together an ‘executive summary’ for the last three months – January through March 2014 – to share with you all.

These three months have been a very interesting time, with a hugely successful fundraising push in February for the South Africa Sorting Space Appeal and some fantastic new shop options, but also a couple of unexpected costs. Hopefully by sharing this information with you all, you’ll feel even more confident in supporting KasCare and the Knit-A-Square project.

First though, a couple of very important caveats!

  • These results are not audited! We will not be auditing this information until the end of the Australian financial year, at the start of July.
  • These results and graphs are approximations. They’re drawn from real numbers, but there are things I haven’t fully accounted for in the graphs; things like fluctuating exchange rates between different countries. As such, I haven’t shown specific numbers, just approximate percentages.
  • This information is taken from the KAS Shop, the KasCare Paypal account, and the KasCare bank statements. If you have made a direct donation to any of the KasCare affiliated projects (like KAS SA or the JBay recycling project) without using an actual KasCare form, it will not be shown in these graphs.

Now, let’s get on to the fun stuff!

Where did KasCare funding come from?

Over the past three months, we’ve averaged a little under $3000 US per month in income. This has come almost exclusively from donations by members like yourselves, so we thank you humbly for your support.

About a third of our donations come from recurring donations from members. I really must make a special mention to these individuals, because they make it possible for us to plan safely and confidently for the future, knowing that this much at least will keep coming in every month.

The shop has also been very successful this year, although I’ll discuss that in a lot more detail very shortly.

I hope this graph makes it clear just how much we rely on and value your support as donors!

Where did KasCare funding go?

All of those donations allow us to do amazing things!

Over three quarters of the funds donated to KasCare went to KAS South Africa. This is the team on the ground who do the assembling and distribution of all the wonderful goodies that you produce! You can see the fantastic work that this team does in the reports from South Africa on the forum, as well as in all the beautiful photos from the sorting room!

As with all charities, there are running costs. PayPal in particular does come with a small fee on every transaction, but in exchange it provides a safe and low-risk way for people all around the world to donate. We want to make sure people feel confident in any online processes handling their money, so this extra security that PayPal gives us is very valuable.

You’ve probably noticed that purple segment with the * next to it. Most of this was a single, once off, but unexpected cost. It came about because of a small error made some time ago, which was only discovered earlier this year. That meant that a cost which should have been a few small payments made over several years, ended up being one large cost all at once! While it was certainly an unwelcome surprise, it is completely resolved now and you shouldn’t be seeing it again in any of our future reports.

The really good news is that even after covering our budgeted costs for KAS South Africa and all of our ongoing running expenses, we still had a small extra margin to put into our savings! This will become very important in the next couple of months, as South Africa is heading into winter and distribution costs start going up!

Which causes spoke most to us?

I mentioned earlier that I was going to speak in more detail about the shop. Here it is! The following graph shows the number of sales for each of our shop items (rather than the amount of money those items brought us).

The KAS Ops Sponsorship items introduced last year continue to go strong, with lots of support for sewing kits and paper for the creches.

I’m also delighted to see that we’ve had a few teachers coming through the shop, picking up copies of the KasKids Teacher Guide for their schools. Our teachers do a fantastic job of sharing both a love of knitting and a passion for KAS in their students, so they get double kudos here!

One of the new initiatives we kicked off this quarter was to move appeals into the shop too. You may have noticed that the Sorting Space Appeal had a specific page for donations, set up as part of the shop, rather than us simply asking you to use the “Donate Now” button. This allows us to identify exactly how much of the donated money was sent to us specifically for this cause, as opposed to just being a general purpose donation. That makes it easier to ensure that it is used for that cause, and for us to gauge how strong your support is for that particular cause. Clearly, everyone really supported the Sorting Space appeal. Thank you for your enthusiasm for this milestone change!

In closing…

In closing, I want to thank everyone for your ongoing support of KAS, whether you are a regular donator, an occasional donator, one of our dedicated crafters, or even just spreading the word. We appreciate the efforts of every single one of you.

This is the first financial report of its type, but hopefully not the last! It is my intention to provide similar sorts of details to everyone after each financial quarter.

I’d also love to hear feedback from you about these reports. Is there something I missed which you would like me to talk about? Would you like more detail? Less detail? Too many words, not enough pictures? 🙂 (I do that, I know!)

If you have questions about this, please ask them below and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Here’s to another exciting quarter coming up!

A NEW YEAR, A NEW SITE, and, SOME QUESTIONS

Happy New Year, everyone!

Welcome to 2014.

 

I hope that everyone’s 2013 will be remembered fondly, and that you are all looking forward to another fantastic year.

 

I know the moderators have already planned all sorts of exciting new challenges and activities for the new year. It won’t be long now before the first distributions of 2014 start happening in South Africa, which I’m sure we’re all looking forward to. The new year is always an exciting time!

 

A New Website

 

Speaking of exciting times, I’m delighted to announce that the knit-a-square.com website has had a massive overhaul, and all of these changes will become visible to everyone at some point over the next six hours. Depending on which Internet company you use, you might even be able to see the changes now:

http://www.knit-a-square.com/

(If you are computer savvy, you might like to clear your browser cache to make sure that everything is showing up correctly. If you have no idea what that means, don’t worry. Your computer will catch up by itself, you just might need to wait a little while.)

 

The rework to the site has been a monumental effort, starting back in September of 2012. The project has taken fifteen months to get right, and we’re all really excited to see it working!

 

Special thanks must go to Pam Antink, Laurie Fortier, Linda Maltby, Anne Powell and Sandy McDonald for going through every single page on the site, checking its content, and updating it to be completely up to date. Thanks too to Ronda Lowrie and Wendy Hardy for writing several new pieces of content relating to the South Africa project, which have now been added.

 

Over the next few weeks there will be a few more changes. We’ll be migrating Laurie’s wonderful ‘one square at a time’ blog over into the new KasBlog section of the website, which also includes the South Africa Reports from Ronda and Wendy, the KasSnippets from Pam, and an archive of all our eZines and articles.

 

We hope you love everything on the new site. If you notice anything on there which isn’t working, or anything on the forum which doesn’t look quite right any more, please let me know. It could be that we missed something during the switch over, and it will probably be an easy fix.

 

Some numbers

 

At this ‘end of year’ time, I thought it might be great to share a couple of unofficial numbers. Most of these are not officially confirmed yet, and I’m sure more will be coming out in the next few weeks, but if you’re like me then you’ll probably be keen to see them anyway.

 

Squares

Anne has gone through the square lists from January through to November (the December list has not yet been finalized) and confirmed that this year we received at least 145,848 squares! That’s enough to make blankets for at least 4109 children. Once the December numbers come in, we’ll publish the full breakdown of all the wonderful goodies which have arrived over the year.

 

I also have to make a special shout out to the forum members participating in the “Great Heights” challenge. Together, you have already managed to make so many squares that, if they were all stacked one on top of another, they would be tall enough to reach the top of the Sydney Opera House. Inspirational!

 

 

The KAS Operations Shop

The KAS Ops Support items first started to appear in the shop this year, and your support of them has been fantastic. Since they first appeared, you have sponsored:

  • 20 months worth of Mobile Phone Subscriptions! That allows our volunteers to call creches and other distribution centers and plan ahead, to communicate with our financial sponsors in South Africa, and to coordinate all of the activity that goes on constantly in South Africa. 20 months’ worth is enough to keep two of our volunteers connected for almost a full year each.
  • Fuel to get the KasMobile to at least 28 distributions! That means picking up squares from the post office, taking them to be sewn up, and then driving them all over to place to be given to the kids. Fuel is absolutely vital to our ability to get your squares where they can do the most good.
  • Snacks for 44 creche distributions! Nothing makes a distribution into a party more than delicious snacks for the kids to enjoy while they wait for their blankets and toys to be handed out.
  • 97 Reams of Paper! Along with the pencils and crayons which make their way into our packages, paper enables kids to express themselves through drawing, and to learn vital elementary skills like writing and mathematics. The beautiful illustrations and cut-outs that the kids make are also perfect for brightening up otherwise dull walls in their creches and day care centers.

It’s worth remembering too, that if we are ever lucky enough to get more support for one Ops item than we need, those funds will go to fill a shortfall in some other operational activity. That way, we can keep everything running at peak efficiency!

We’ve also seen sales of 28 Teachers’ Guides, which only goes to show how powerful the idea of KAS is in primary and secondary schools all around the world!

 

 

The Forum

Pam has done some analysis on the forum itself, and discovered that over the year we have gained 1,503 new members. Hi new members!

  • 254 new members discovered us through the Internet
  • 112 new members found us through family and friends. Well done to everyone who has been sharing KAS by word of mouth, your efforts have been successful!
  • 124 new members found the forum through other avenues, including Facebook, Ravelry, and print media.

If you are one of these new members who hasn’t yet introduced yourself, it would be quite wonderful to hear from you. If you’ve just joined in the new year, welcome to the cause! We look forward to sharing this experience with each and every one of you.

 

And finally, some questions

 

Most of you probably don’t know, but when I’m not knitting or crocheting, I work in IT. One of the things IT folk like to do at the end of and important project or milestone is to hold a ‘retrospective’ meeting.

 

We review everything we’ve done, identify things that went well, things that we can do better in the future, and come up with ideas for things we might like to try. I’d love it if you would share your thoughts with us around those things.

 

If you would like some specific prompts, here are some questions to think about. Be as creative as you like, especially if you have new ideas! If you’re not comfortable answering publicly here, you’re also welcome to send me a private message. If you have any other thoughts or ideas which don’t match one of those questions, share it anyway.

  • What moment(s) stood out most for you during the last year in KAS? What about it made it stand out?
  • What do you think KAS does really well?
  • What do you think KAS should focus on doing more of, or doing better in the future?
  • Is there anything you would like us to do less of, or to stop doing entirely?
  • If there was exactly one thing that KasCare could do to make your KAS experience more engaging, easier, or more fun in 2014, what would that thing be?
  • Do you have any brilliant ideas for things we might try in 2014?

 

Treat this is a huge sharing and brainstorming thread if you’d like. How do we make 2014 the best KAS year yet?

 

Happy New Year everyone!

2014 KAS CALENDAR (and other shop goodies!)

The new 2014 edition of the KAS calendar is now available for purchase in the shop!

You can buy it now for $9.95.

 

Many thanks to Sandy for designing next year’s KAS calendar, it is full of beautiful photos of the kids and your knitting masterpieces. The money from every purchase helps us to continue the distributions and support for the kids, their carers, the creches and the gogos of South Africa.

 

All of the products in the shop are sent to you as digital files which can be printed off straight away at any local printing shop, which makes them perfect ‘last minute’ gifts for friends or family who are a challenge to shop for. While you’re at the shop, maybe you can think of someone who would really appreciate a gift of one of the other items.

 

 

Paper for a Creche

Communications

Fuel for a Distribution

Snacks for a Distribution

 

Have a wonderful end of year, and I hope to see everyone even more enthusiastic come 2014!

Help on Distribution Day (from anywhere in the world!)

 

If you're like me, you often wish you could help out on a distribution day… If only I wasn't on the opposite side of the world!

 

Well here's some good news – now we can all help out with distributions in a very specific, individual way. There are three new, slightly unusual items to the Knit-A-Square shop today. These items let you purchase something special to support the day-to-day operations directly in South Africa.

 

For example, you could:

 

Provide snacks and fresh fruit for the kids!

 

When the volunteer team arrives at one of the KAS Creches, they take beautiful blankets, toys and hats for the kids, but they also take some fresh fruit and snacks to make the day extra special. For $25 (US) you can help the team to buy enough snacks for a whole creche full of kids!

 

 

 

or…

 

 

Put fuel in the car! 

 

I'm sure you can imagine just how much driving is involved, getting all the squares and blankets to where they need to go. For $30 (US) you can help to cover the cost of fuel and ongoing maintenance the car requires to get the squares all the way from the post-office to a creche full of kids with blankets!

 

 

 

or…

 

 

Let everyone know what's happening!

 

Not only do the volunteers have to keep us forum-goers notified of everything that's going on, they also need to make sure that all the various participants (our crafters, sewers, distributors and creche organizers, to name a few) are also well informed and organized. For just $15 (US), you can help to cover the cost of a mobile phone and network connection for a month, to make this much easier on one of our coordinators.

 

 

 

If you purchase one of these products from the shop, you'll be emailed a PDF which you could even print out and pass on to a friend as a gift for a special occasion. All of the money from the KAS Ops Support products goes to keeping things running smoothly in South Africa, which I think everyone can agree is absolutely vital.

 

Of course, there are still plenty of other exciting things available in the Knit-A-Square shop, if none of these catch your eye. If you haven't browsed the shop you, please do take a look!

 

If you've got ideas for other aspects of KAS which you would like to see added as items in the shop, we'd all love to hear them. Also, if you have any questions about how the KAS Ops Support products work, I'm happy to answer them here.

BLANKET SUPPORT – A new shop item to support the Gogos

Hi everyone!

You may remember a few months ago, we mentioned that we were introducing a program which allowed us to financially support some of the communities of volunteer Gogos who do such a beautiful job sewing up our squares into blankets.

You can read more about this exciting initiative in Excitement in Evaton and Tea with the Sisonke Gogos. (You should definitely re-read these stories when you have the time!)

This project has proven to be quite a success, and we’d like to be able to continue this support, and possibly even expand it to other groups of volunteers in the future!

To this end, we’ve added a new shop item:

blanketpayment

Blanket support for a Gogo

For just $5 USD, you can provide blanket payments for one or more blankets, supporting the women in the KAS community who in turn support us and the kids.

As well as the immediately obvious benefits (beautifully assembled blankets), supporting these women has great trickle on effects for their families and community. We’ve often heard stories of these older women becoming primary caregivers for very young children, or supporting other members of the community by providing child care or other important help. Financial support for these women also supports many other people in the community.

In supporting the Gogos by sponsoring a blanket support payment, you can be a part of this initiative to help the whole community.

What is KAS?

According to the United Nations,

There are more than 34 million orphans in the region (sub-Saharan Africa) today and some 11 million of them are orphaned by AIDS. Eight out of every 10 children in the world whose parents have died of AIDS live in sub-Saharan Africa. During the last decade, the proportion of children who are orphaned as a result of AIDS rose from 3.5% to 32% and will continue to increase exponentially as the disease spreads unchecked. 

Ronda Lowrie lives amongst these orphans in South Africa. She could not continue as a spectator to the suffering of these children. With her niece, Sandy McDonald and their families, they began Knit-a-Square (KAS) in 2009.

Their idea is brilliant in it’s simplicity. With the help of the Internet, they “shout out” to the knitters and crocheters of the world asking them to make one 8 inch square. 35 squares sewn together in South Africa make a blanket to warm one orphan. Ronda and her volunteers go into settlements and day care centers and distribute the blankets one by one.

KAS43

In the last five years the plight of the AIDS orphans of South Africa has touched the hearts of thousands of people world-wide. One square is all we ask, but many people send tens and hundreds of squares along with toys, hats, sweaters and more.

Octoberfinalgraph

All of the donations serve to warm these forgotten children, but as Ronda tells us they do much more:

“The blankets are a currency we use to tell the children exactly how beloved they are. We tell them they are the future unique and special.”

There are many ways you can help us:

knit or crochet a square

like our Facebook page

join our wonderfully friendly group on the KAS Forum

make a donation