Before I retired, I worked for three charities, over a period of 25 years. They were all local charities, all providing direct services to disabled people, all receiving part of their funding from a local authority but all needing to supplement their income through some form of fundraising. It was always hard work to maintain financial stability. I know the problem that charities have in raising funds, how they rely on volunteers and fundraisers, how every penny spent needs to be found from somewhere, how the Charity Commission watch how much money is spent on fundraising in relation to the money raised for the Charity. The ‘Big Guys’, like Oxfam or British Heart Foundation, have huge fundraising machines; the people that deliver the service do not get involved in the day to day mechanics of fundraising. Throughout this time, I was an avid tea towel collector and it was always my dream that one of the organisations I worked for would have a fundraising tea towel. Did they? Never! I was always in a difficult position, as the ‘boss’, of not wanting to suggest a tea towel to raise funds, because of my interest in them, rather than be aware of the needs of the organisation. But it was always a disappointment that we didn’t have a tea towel. When I worked for FAIRDEAL, our big fundraiser was the T Shirt (based on the maze that many people struggle with to get Community Care services); it was a good design. I still have two although they are 25 years old. In POhWER, it was the T Shirt again; I’ve still got one of those, 20 years old but mosaic: shaping disability services, it was just the pens. One of my colleagues, who was good at crafts, and knew my penchant for a tea towel, hand-drew two potential designs but this wasn’t taken up by the Trustees. I still have those two designs, which I use and love; they are displayed at the top of this article. The mosaic logo was red with black writing; I like Rosie’s creative use of colour, either the red tea towel with the black logo or the multi-coloured logos on a white background.
As I travel the journey of the Virtual Tea Towel Museum, I thought it might be interesting to look at Charities that do have a fundraising tea towel, how it came about and how successful it is for bringing money into the charity.
My first problem was actually identifying Charities that sold their own tea towels; today, tote bags are very popular (especially since the 5p charge for a plastic bag in a supermarket came into force in Britain). More expensive items like sweat shirts are also popular down to wrist bands and T Shirts. But, I have found some with fascinating stories about how their tea towels came about. This, hopefully, will be a growing Collection which may be of interest to Museum Visitors and hopefully will generate some funds for those charities.
One of the good things about the Virtual Tea Towel Museum is that it is accessible to people from all over the world, it’s Visitors are from all around the world, so why not look at charities from around the world? One of the things that all the charities featured have in common is their commitment to their specific cause and each tea towel is created from unique circumstances.
Aberglasney Restoration Trust
Firth of Forth Lobster Hatchery
GUTS: fighting bowel cancer