Did Black Friday Give you the Blues?
Black Friday has just passed, and I expect most of us have grabbed a bargain for our loved ones at Christmas-time. Your inbox was probably overflowing with emails from your favourite retailers, with promises of special offers and juicy discounts. I know mine was, and yes, I did succumb! There's no doubt about it - this is an important time of the year for lots of businesses, and if we can save a few pounds along the way, well, it's a win-win situation.
However, if we're not careful, Black Friday can also be a time of excess. A time when those bargains persuade us to spend more than we would otherwise have done, and that puts us under a lot of pressure to buy too much 'stuff'. It can lead to us feeling like we've overdone it, rather like indulging in too much rich food and drink over the holiday period.
And is it just me - or did you actually shout at your computer screen? 'Hey! I'm not saving money here; I'm SPENDING it!!' Yes, that's what Black Friday is: a day of spending your hard-earned cash. I checked out Wikipedia to find its origins, and apparently the term may have come about to signify the point in the year when retailers began to make a profit, thus going from being 'in the red' to being 'in the black'. It's not actually about us at all. It's about them.
And for what? Christmas is but one day that lots of us quite rightly anticipate eagerly as we look forward to celebrating with our loved ones, and then it's gone, leaving us with the damp promise of a gloomy January and bills that might take us some months to clear. If you've got young children, you'll know that lots of those presents are going to be stuffed in the toy cupboard and never looked at again, and how many unwanted gifts will you receive and give away as raffle presents later on in the year?
Black Friday doesn't really help anybody to live out the true meaning of Christmas, which is meant to be a time of new beginnings, hope and goodwill. I think we all like to feel more generous with our time and money during the festive season. Maybe you leave a bigger tip in your favourite restaurant; buy a copy of The Big Issue or drop some loose change in a busker's guitar case when you're travelling on the underground? Or maybe you volunteer your time at special events to help those less fortunate than you?
There is a real alternative to Black Friday, and that's Giving Tuesday!
Giving Tuesday is on 1st December, and it's a global day of giving when everybody can come together to show the world why it's good to give! It comes hot on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and, after spending a lot of money on consumer products, allows us to give back and spend time and money on causes that help others.
Let CLP Give you that Loving Feeling!
Would you like you like to take part in this year's Giving Tuesday?
If so, look no further - we can make it easy for you!! As a registered charity, working in the most disadvantaged areas of Hertfordshire, we would welcome any support you feel able to give, no matter how small.
CLP is funded by government contracts and grant funding to deliver the innovative projects that our learners have come to know and love. But maybe you don't know that only a tiny percentage of the funding we receive enables us to run our lovely little charity. Like the not-so-little matters of paying rent; telephones bills; internet; stationery; postage and salaries for the core team.
It is increasingly difficult to find grants that will pay for core costs because funders like to pay for projects that benefit others directly, which is understandable. However, without having our core costs covered, it is difficult to plan strategically; retain and invest in staff and undertake all of the other standard business practices that ensure an organisation is sustainable. We live pretty much hand-to-mouth, and have done so for ten years. We're obviously doing something right, but now we want to move our charity to the next level so that we can plan to ensure that even more local people can benefit from engaging with us. CLP is far from alone in finding creative ways to address this problem on a shoestring, but that doesn't make the task any easier.
In this academic year, CLP's priority is to become more sustainable as an organisation so that we can grow to run more family learning, more arts and crafts, and have our Heavenly Arts and Crafts Cafe open more often. Why? So we can serve our learners even better than we already do, and give them lots more opportunities that will help to progress on their journeys into further learning; volunteering and employment. We want to help them to connect with us, with one another and with their communities to enrich local life for everybody.
We know how much it means to our learners to be able to have some time out during the week just for themselves. Many of our clients are carers; have chronic health problems that get them down; struggle to make ends meet or feel burdened by anxiety and depression. Others want to carve out some space for themselves during a busy week, and many want to learn new skills to enrich their lives and unlock the door to new opportunities. Lots of parents/carers are also bewildered at the teaching methods used in schools, which have changed since they were at school themselves (particularly in English and maths), and our literacy and numeracy programmes help them to support their children.
The projects we run help people to transform their lives as they discover the joy of learning, and the benefits this brings: feeling more confident; making new friends with shared interests; learning new skills; opening doors to a better life; improved family relationships ...the list goes on.
And this joy of learning isn't contained within the learner. That would be impossible because learning isn't an insular activity. It just bubbles up and out of them, so that others within the same communities get to know about the opportunities we make available to them, and they in turn go on to improve the quality of their lives by taking part. Join up the dots, and together we're able to create learning communities in which more people can participate, which means more residents supporting one another; feeling less lonely; volunteering and contributing to the economic development of less affluent geographical areas such as South Oxhey and Borehamwood within our 'County of Opportunity'.
In fact, Lynda made such progress that we nominated her for an Adult Learning Week Award, and her achievements were recognised at county level when she received a runner-up prize in the family learning category from Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service (HAFLS)!
Please can you help us continue our work?
If you could help us to be part of the solution to helping people like Lynda, who have so much untapped potential, you would support CLP to continue to make a real difference to the most amazing people in the most disadvantaged areas of Hertfordshire.
Although it's becoming harder to obtain, we nonethless do well in securing contracts to run community and family learning projects, but as I explained, it is extremely difficult to gain funding to cover core costs such as salaries, and this makes it hard for us to make long-term plans and to become a sustainable charity. It really is a case of taking it year-by-year.
This isn't good enough. We owe our learners more than that, and actually we owe it to our staff to give them better job security so that we can continue to give our best. This year. Next year. Into the future. Isn't it ironic that when our learners need us most in these tough economic times, it becomes harder for charities like ours to secure funding to give them a hand up?
You could help us in the following ways:
REGULAR GIVING: Charity Checkout has made it possible for us to accept regular amounts by direct debit. This is particularly beneficial to CLP as it will help us to plan for the future by knowing that we will have enough funds going forward to pay for staff and premises. Once we've got that bit of the business right, we will have the capacity to increase the numbers of family and community learning courses and projects that we run.
We have the teachers and the expertise to run programmes, but there are hidden costs of planning, promoting, evaluating and administration that are difficult to claim for. Small but regular amounts would really add up to make a difference, and we can claim Gift Aid if you pay more tax than your regular donation. Just imagine, if only 100 of our supporters pledged £5 per month, that would add up to £6,000.00 per year - not counting any Gift Aid. We can make that amount go a very long way!
Please click on this Donate link if you are able to give small sums beyond Giving Tuesday.
VOLUNTEERING: if you have some free time, and a particular skill, we would welcome you as a volunteer on an ad hoc or regular basis. Perhaps you are experienced in helping charities to become sustainable or have business expertise that you could share? Maybe you bake delicious cakes; have artistic talents or are able to help out at our events?
If you would like to be considered as a volunteer, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will get back to you.
Feel Good on Giving Tuesday
If you've been touched by Lynda's story of transformation, and would like to help us continue to support others to reach their potential, then please spare just a little of your cash or time to help CLP to grow and become sustainable.
It will make you feel good this Giving Tuesday, knowing that your support can help bring about positive change in people's lives during this season of goodwill and beyond. This is a change that will ripple out into families, communities and down through to the next generation, helping to break cycles of underachievement and stunted potential. How many presents bought on Black Friday or Cyber Monday can bring about a gift like that?
Remember, just click on the Donate button (if you are on PC/Laptop) or click this link if you would like to give a one-off donation or commit to making a small but regular payment. Or email email@example.com if you would like to volunteer.
Thank you for reading this blogpost, and I look forward to hearing from you.
With heart-felt thanks,