Having firmly established the need for Baby Bank Network in Bristol and beyond, what’s next?
The first few months have seen the hard graft of start- up, organisation and network building, so how can Baby Bank Network continue to grow and succeed? Now is the time for building on those fantastic foundations and to look to our peers ‘in the industry’ for inspiration and guidance.
How have they overcome the pitfalls? How have they maintained momentum? What’s easy and what’s hard?
There are two noteworthy examples from a list of many organisations who share the same mission as Baby Bank Network that our founders agree have set the benchmark incredibly high.
The first, our national sister organisation Stripey Stork, www.stripeystork.org. is based in Reigate Surrey, and has been operating for two years. It’s proving to be a success story in the area and is also currently mentoring BBN. The basic principles start up, and initial development are strikingly similar to our own;
“Stripey Stork collect donations of items for babies and children (equipment, furniture, clothes and toys) and distribute them to families experiencing hardship in the Reigate & Banstead Borough and surrounding areas. We are a volunteer-run group started by a group of local Mums who wanted to see the items their children no longer needed re-used in the local community. There is a real need for this service in our area. Approximately 27,000 children and young people live in Poverty in Surrey”
Their popularity of Stripey Stork is growing and the breadth of their impact is widening to great effect…
“…. delighted to say we’ve been able to respond to 45% more requests for help from local families in year two than in year one. “when I sat with my son in soft play recently and overheard a group of Mums chatting about Stripey Stork “this great local group that support local families – check them out on Facebook” I realise that in such a short time we’re already becoming part of the local fabric.”
St Kilda’s www.stkildamums.org was established in 2009 and is another volunteer-run not-for-profit organisation based in St Kilda, Melbourne.and has a good few years of doing their bit under their belt. It’s a stellar example of a network providing the same support to families in need through the reuse of unwanted baby items as Stripey Stork and Baby Bank Network.
“St Kilda Mums was established in February 2009. We were surprised the local opportunity shops refused to accept our donations of cots and prams and other nursery gear. These items were only a few years old and in good condition but we had no-one to pass them onto. Unwilling to accept that the local tip was the only solution, we tried to track down a local women’s shelter. We discovered that no service existed to match the needs of families suffering hardship with families who had nursery equipment to donate. St Kilda Mums was created to fill this need. “
The infographic below shows the phenomenal amount of work achieved and items that have been rehomed by St Kilda’s in just little over five years.
What we at Baby Bank Network, Stripey Stork and St Kilda’s all have in common and are finding the relatively easy part of the process is the willingness for people to donate their pre-loved items and the ability to rely on volunteers to give their time and the passion of all people involved to do something to help. The ability to gain support of health care professionals and social workers to make the connection is also forthcoming.
“that steady vein of generosity in this society which, even if fairly flat, remains constant and deep.”
Experts from the Nudge Unit (Guardian Article) carried out a study of the behaviours of giving (time and money) that states “The good news is that charitable giving is contagious – seeing others give makes an individual more likely to give and gentle encouragement from a prominent person in your life can make also make a big difference to your donation decisions – more than quadrupling them in our recent study. Habit also plays a part – in three recent experiments those who volunteered before were more likely to donate their time than those who had not volunteered before.
St Kilda’s say “Many local businesses, media outlets, community groups and individuals have provided services and materials either heavily discounted or free of charge.. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the public, and so often moved by the stories and memories passed on when precious items are donated”
“Our incredible growth is down to two main reasons; the first and most important reason is that hundreds of volunteers have contributed thousands of hours to help us clean, sort, repair, pack, safety check and hand out each and every item”
The challenges now faced by BBN, namely lack of ample (and free) storage space along with consistent fundraising of substantial figures are proving to be a significant hurdle to jump.
St Kilda’s struggled with the lack of suitable storage space for sometime and this table indicates the impact sufficient storage can have on progress. In the past 12 months, the year a large warehouse was secured, St Kildas has rehomed as many items as they had in their first four years. The giant leap in figures the year bigger storage was available is obvious but nontheless remarkable. Their warehouse is effectionately know as the ‘HQ of love’….
“. ..The second reason [for growth] is that our St Kilda warehouse provides a safe and secure place to work and store all the wonderful donations until they are safety checked and ready to be picked up. Both reasons are important and interconnected. We need the space to expand and grow, and we need the people to make the warehouse hum”
What St Kilda’s and Stripey Stork have in common that we at BBN are yet to realise is registered charity status. The resulting advantages to obtaining this can and hopefully will help bring about the following:
St Kilda’s boasts a substantial list of corporate/big brand suppliers supporters and sponsorship income from grants and donor/sponsors/trusts and foundations.
Although not as extensive as St Kilda’s, Sripey Stork is also now has a long list of financial support and charity status has enabled them to become a registered charity partner on eBay.
So what can we do know to emulate their growth? Here at BBN we are doing what we believe to be the right things to grow. So as we know the two main concerns of storage and funding are interwoven our team and networks are doing the best they can to spread the word about the need for storage and cast the fundraising net wider. And whilst we patiently persevere at securing our own ‘HQ of love’ our founders and trustees have already started the process of charity registration and hope for it to be complete by mid-November. The legal firm Burges Salmon are on hand to guide us through this process and we are receiving extra support from Voscur. When all is complete, BBN will be a charitable incorporated organisation (CIO)
We have some excellent fundraising plans in the pipeline and once registered can begin the process of securing some corporate sponsorship and grant funding.
It’s worth reminding ourselves that, even though we’d like to meet the standards set by St Kildsa’s and Stripey Stork quickly, its certainly not unachievable given time. Who knows how much bigger BBN can grow after five years if the last three months are anything to go by.
It’s only a matter of time before that the ‘golden ticket’ of a storage solution will be found for BBN in order to flourish. It has been a busy and rewarding experience starting up this wonderful organisation. We hope to continue to grow and expand in the future with more social service agencies accessing our service, resulting in even more families being helped.