community yarn fund – an update

at the start of this year, i posted about introducing a Community Yarn Fund with the idea of trialling it for a few months and seeing how it went & what happened.  i was excited about the idea of enabling people to access hand-dyed yarn whose finances wouldn’t normally allow it, but was concerned about adding extra admin and stress to my workload, so i thought doing it on a trial basis might be a good option.

and for the most part, it’s been amazing – firstly, to witness the beautiful generosity of the Old Maiden Aunt community in terms of making donations to the fund, and secondly, to be able to get some lovely yarns into the hands of people who wouldn’t normally be able to use them.  it’s also been great to send out some nice treats to folks who have been having a hard time, especially with all the new stresses & struggles we’ve faced so far this year.  over the past little while, though, i’ve had a few requests which made me think that i needed to post a little update/clarification about how the Community Yarn Fund is intended to work.

the Community Yarn Fund is made up entirely of donations from the lovely members of the Old Maiden Aunt community, who are trusting me to redistribute their money in such a way that i can reach the most people and allocate funds as fairly as possible.  because the fund depends entirely on these donations, the amount available each month fluctuates, especially given the turn that 2020 has taken and the new pressures that all of us are feeling.  generally speaking, though, i’ve been able to allocate £150-200ish each month so far this year, which is an amazing figure.

it was always my intention that the fund would be used to fully cover requests for smaller quantities of yarn (1-2 skeins) for people in financial need to be able to have a small luxury, or to help subsidise the cost of a larger order (so far for most people this means covering 50% or so of the cost so they can access a sweater quantity of yarn for a more affordable price).  this way, people who need financial help can still access yarn, but i’m also being fairly reimbursed for the product that i make.  it’s incredibly rare that there is enough in the fund to fully cover the cost of a larger quantity of yarn; if i only have £150 to allocate in any given month, giving £100 of it to one person isn’t the fairest use of those resources.  it also wasn’t my intention that people who have received community-funded yarn would then be able to come back month after month with additional requests; again, sending yarn to one person multiple times isn’t the fairest use of the limited resources available.

generally, people have been incredibly respectful of how the fund is intended to work, and have been completely reasonable and fair in their requests.  recently, though, i’ve had a few requests which i feel are unreasonable – folk asking for large quantities of yarn to be fully funded several months in a row, or emailing persistently about requests, which has been really stressful.

i never wanted this to turn into something that would cause me a lot of anxiety; i’ve been in the position before of barely being able to afford necessities let alone something “frivolous”, so i absolutely love being able to send out community-funded yarn to people who could really use a little luxury or a much-needed treat.  but my autism means that i have to carefully manage my workload and my stress/anxiety; as you can imagine, the year so far has not been easy to navigate for me and i really don’t want this to become an additional burden.

with that in mind, i’ve added some detail to what i had originally posted about how the Community Yarn Fund is intended to work, in the hopes that this will clear up any issues that may have been misunderstood.  i really want to be able to continue running the fund, but it really depends on everyone being respectful and fair in their requests. so:

here’s how it will work if you want to contribute to the yarn fund:

  • i’ve set up a product listing in the web shop called “community yarn fund”; you can find it here.  it’s available in varying amounts; if you’re in a financial position to contribute to the yarn fund, just purchase whatever amount you want to be added to the fund, and this money will be set aside.  even small amounts add up to a lot so a donation of £1 is as appreciated as a donation of £20!!
  • every bit of the money from the community yarn fund will be used towards yarn and postage costs for those who need to access it; i’ll cover any admin fees from paypal or shopify.

and here’s how it will work if you want to access the yarn fund:

  • send me an email at info@oldmaidenaunt.com with the subject line “Community Yarn Fund”.
  • in the body of the email, let me know what you need, and be specific.  would you like a discount for a larger quantity of yarn for a test knit or a special project?  do you want to cover the full price of a single skein for a treat to lift your spirits?  let me know what specific yarn or specific amount you’d like to access.  it’s also helpful if you let me know where you are and if you need postage costs covered as well.
  • please be respectful and fair in your request.  the amount available in the fund varies and i need to be able to allocate it as fairly and evenly as possible.  it’s rare that there is enough in the fund to fully cover the cost of a larger quantity; i’m generally only able to grant requests for smaller quantities or to subsidise the cost of a larger quantity.
  • i haven’t set any “rules” about how often you can apply to access the fund or for what amount, and i don’t really want to have to do that; however this relies on people being reasonable in what they ask for.  for example, don’t expect to be able to access the fund multiple times in a short space of time, or have the full cost of a large quantity of yarn covered.  this doesn’t mean that you can never apply more than once; but i will prioritise requests from people who haven’t already accessed the fund.
  • please don’t feel like you need to give details about why you need to access the fund.  i can’t stress this point enough!!!  i don’t want anyone to feel like they need to justify why they need help; this needs to work on trust.  if you feel that you need to access the fund, then i believe you.  also, my autism means that i don’t always respond “appropriately” to emotional stress – i’m not sure i can handle knowing the details of other people’s hardships, and need to protect myself from that if i can (i’m sorry if that sounds harsh).
  • at the end of each month, i’ll look at the requests that have been sent in and tally the money available, and randomly select who can access the fund for that month.  this will depend entirely on what’s available in the fund and how many requests come in.  if you aren’t chosen to access the fund that month then please don’t feel disappointed, just try again next time.
  • if you’re selected to access the fund, i’ll send you an email at the end of the month and let you know, and we can work out how to get you what you need!  if you’re not selected, you won’t receive an email (so if you don’t hear from me, it means you haven’t been chosen this time).  if that’s the case, please email me again with a new request as i won’t roll over requests month to month.
  • each month i’ll put up a post on instagram detailing what came in and what was allocated, just in the interests of financial transparency.  your details will never be given out to anyone else; access to the fund will remain confidential.  if you want to share any details on your own social media about what you received or what you’re making with it that’s entirely up to you; you’re not under any obligation to disclose that you received community-funded yarn.

hopefully that clears everything up and gives you all the information you need to understand how the Community Yarn Fund works – if you have any other questions you can let me know in the comments.  i really, really want to be able to keep this going, but the last little while has been really stressful; i don’t want to have to come to the decision that it’s too much for me to keep the fund available, so i’m relying on everyone to be excellent to each other!

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