Hello dear members

Knit-a-Square South Africa has some news that we believe everyone is will be interested to hear …

Today (Tuesday 11th) we will be moving downstairs in the same office block … to a bigger office on the GROUND floor.  We are excited to share that the new office has a large roller-door garage type opening onto the parking area which will make for much easier loading and unloading … and NO MORE STAIRS !!!

This new office space is 150 square metres, as compared with the 100 square metres we are occupying at present in two rooms – and out of which we are already bursting, due to the large the volumes of parcels coming through each week !

We are also happy to say that our landlord has agreed to keep the basic rental cost at exactly the same level – at least until end February, in accordance with an addendum we will sign on the existing lease.  Having said that, there will be an increase in costs in respect of the monthly “shared” costs which are raised in respect of utilities, rates, Wi-Fi, services, parking and so on.  These must be calculated in line with the increased space … in fairness to the other tenants.  There was no way to avoid this aspect, but we are hopeful that the difference will amount to no more than another R1500 per month (US$120) extra.

 

Speaking further about the financial situation with KAS SA …….

As is well known, in this financial year we attracted help from MedLemon to collect navy scarves and run two knitting training schools on their behalf, one in Soweto and one in Diepsloot.  In support of this, we were given a sum of money as a budget to cover all the costs involved in running the training schools ourselves.  We, separately, received a sum of money towards our rental costs in lieu of the scarf project (an amount which potentially gave us 3 month’s office rent in hand.) 

This, coupled with the wonderful forum “Pay the Rent” campaign via PAYPAL button on the website, has been instrumental in enabling us to pay the rent each month without anxietyIndeed, we must say how sincerely we appreciate every single donation we receive from you, our contributors. 

We will, however, keep exploring other avenues of income, though at present Knit-a-Square in South Africa is in an extremely labour intensive distribution phase, and, we are not finding time to make effective inroads in this area.  Hopefully, after September when the distribution workload eases off, we should be able to focus on this aspect of finding additional funding.

Feedback received from MedLemon indicates that they have been extremely happy with the way the project worked in this first, experimental operation.  Nevertheless, we are by no means assured that they will want to work with us again. Nor do we feel that you, as our overseas contributor base, were entirely happy that we became involved with corporate South Africa in this way. 

Certainly, we did fall far short of our initially stated target of achieving 6700 navy scarves by Mandela Day in July, which we had, with hindsight, been over-confident about !  We simply based our calculations on the thousands of squares we receive every month and did not sensibly take into account the realities.

 

All’s well that ends well though, of course … and Wendy had cleverly built into our training budget, a contingency amount which allowed us to buy 3000 scarves, as most of you will know by now.  This means, in fact, that MedLemon themselves paid in full for those scarves, without extra financial cost to Knit-a-Square.  Although we may, perhaps, allow ourselves a modicum of disappointment that not even a small amount of “fat on the bone” will have remained by the end, with which we might have rewarded Wendy after she has so loyally shouldered a massive workload in her professional capacity.

Also, it is true to say that, from October, once the training project has ended, the MedLemon budget will have dissipated to zero in our bank account,  while our monthly operational costs remain at a level of between R25,000 - R30,000 (US$2000 - US$2500).

Knit-a-Square is an incredibly labour-intensive operation – currently, we are not coping on a purely volunteer basis any longer, but our costs would double if we were to “employ” expertise where needed.  In order to give members a picture of operational costs, we are working to produce the true cost figure of wrapping a child in a blanket. Something, perhaps we should have done a long time ago!

 

We do so hope that the practical reality of Knit-a-Square’s current situation is well-received and understood by all our valued contributors – and that we can find the best way forward from here. 

 

Let’s comfort ourselves with the knowledge that Knit-a-Square is powered by love, not only of crafting, but also for the orphaned and vulnerable children of South Africa. We can, therefore, comfort ourselves in the knowledge that there will be a way forward. Thank you.

 

Ronda Lowrie

                                                   

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Thank you Ronda for this update. I am glad you are moving out of two rooms into one and with a roll up door no less! This will help immensely.  I have been concerned for some time at the size to which Knit A Square is growing.  Like you I am presuming a way forwards will present itself...your hearty band of volunteers is getting swamped I think.  I am staggered at the piles of blankets, boxes of toys etc.  I am definitely going to do some praying about it.  Meanwhile have a very happy Birthday!  Try not to stress out too much, I am sure we will figure something out between all of us cogitating on it. The last thing we want is for all of you lovely ladies (and gents sometimes) to get burned out, exhausted and unable to enjoy it any longer.  

Love and hugs to everyone,

Jeanne xoxoxo

Thanks for your positive comments, Jeanne - and your prayers will be of great value since we believe God has always been in control of Knit-A-Square and has caused it to be provided for in the most amazing way ... all along !

AMEN to that! x x x x

May I be the first to' throw my hat into the ring' of this 'discussion'? 

My first thought is to send nothing to KAS Team SA until further notice from Ronda, but to pay whatever I would have spent in postage into the KAS coffers to help pay for extra expenses or waged staff instead.  KAS is hugely successful now, grossly understaffed and new strategies are necessary.  Even if the forum 'stalwarts', lets say 50 of us were to stop posting for 6 months and sent ALL THAT POSTAGE MONEY into the organisation direct, the financial situation would be greatly improved and there would still be tons of stuff pouring into the SA office.  This isn't just about knitting, it's about getting comforts to the kids who need them.  This can only be done by KAS SA staff.  We need to financially support the organisation more, instead of pouring so much  stuff into SA for others to worry about distributing.  Ronda could maybe put out a call once in a while for what they are short of, say squares or toys or jumpers or scarves [or cloth books!] or whatever and we could respond with a small package as requested.  Of course this postage money would be sent as well as whatever we all contribute financially anyway.

We need to ease the pressure on our KAS TEAM SA to enable them to develop new strategies

I hope I'm not stamping on any toes or talking gibberish [or if I am please forgive me]. 

Would it be best to just make a regular monthly payment via the monthly payment button on the website?  Or would someone have to set up a 'new strategies' donation button [for want of a better title].............Roz  x

Good idea Roz...we might go into withdrawal but that's better than not sending at all because Ronda and team can't afford to keep running the operation !

Right now it would be best to send a regular monthly payment via the Knit-a-Square SA donation page.  We want the money to go directly to Ronda to save on exchange and service fees.  http://knit-a-square.com/KAS_South_Africa

A friendly suggestion: I mark each month on my calendar [I chose the end of the month] and then visit the donation page to send my monthly donation.

Thank you for this helpful post, Linda - always practical and thoughtful you are !!

Linda, my 'marker' is pension day every fourth Friday.  That's when I post parcels and do my KAS shopping...........x

I work around my pension time too Rosamund...I must say with summer heat and difficulty coping with it, I've done less squares, mainly little dolls so I feel less guilty for doing less, knowing our money can go to helping with expenses instead. :)  Good thinking about scaling back a tad while we find a way forwards.

Dear Ros ... actually you may have hit the nail right on the head !  If we are to sustain the operation of KAS SA, it is the practical issues which will need to be addressed, and some kind of balance needs to be achieved between the massive volumes of post being received and the running costs (financial and physical) of making sure every stitch reaches the orphaned and vulnerable children, along with our message of love and encouragement so vital for each child to receive. 

The practicalities of how to establish this balance will need thought and input and discussion between all of us.  What you have suggested is along those lines;  it is how to implement this kind of system in the most equitable manner.

This is why it may help to work out the cost to KAS SA of distributing each blanket.  We now just need to find TIME to find the most accurate formula to apply, count the blankets distributed over a certain period of time ... and make a sound calculation.   

First of all thanks Ronda for the informative report - it's good to know the state of affairs, even if it is not happy reading at times. It's not right that you should be worrying about money when you do such a wonderful job. Like you I believe that from somewhere the money will come but that doesn't solve the workload problem. Roz's suggestion of setting up a site for monthly donations is sound and I for one would be happy to do this. If enough people did that it would take the worry of the rent away. That would then leave the SA team free to find new volunteers and funding for paid workers. It's at times like this that I would love to be there to lend a helping hand. The thought of NOT making squares for 6 months horrifies me so I really hope a solution can be found!!

Monthly donations would be so helpful Cath. As I mentioned to Roz, please use the Knit-a-Square SAdonation page.  That way the money goes directly to Ronda and saves on exchange and service fees.

Dear Cath - we know how frustrating this is for everyone concerned ... and the last thing we want to do is curb your collectively MARVELLOUS and AMAZING digestive juices !!  

I do wonder at myself when I think back to my rather disingenuous enthusiasm at Sandy McDonald's very first suggestion that she set up "a website to ask the knitters/crocheters of the world to send 20x20cm squares to SA via the post ... and then, my Ronds", she wrote, "you can stitch them together and hand out dozens of blankets at the traffic lights each winter !". 

How incredibly this seed of an idea has grown into the most wonderful outpouring of love for the children of SA.  It is humbling indeed ... but I was quite obviously blind to the possibility that we might end up being gloriously drowned under tons of contributions, from hundreds of amazingly talented, kind people ... without the financial, administrative or physical means of keeping up our end of the bargain at the same level !

It's been the MOST fun and we love what we are called to do. 

The way forward will be found - we know it !

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