As all full members of Stitch know, Stitch is a social enterprise dedicated to the improvement of the lives of our members by addressing social isolation.
In late 2019, the Stitch Community was recognized by the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission as a non-for-profit charity. This was announced on the Stitch Blog in March 2020 in this article:
The article above gives a good overview of the charity status of the community and what it is trying to achieve. When it comes to donations, however, some additional background is helpful.
In order to be classified what's called a "Public Benevolent Institution", and qualify for tax-deductible donations, the charity is only allowed to provide assistance to those in most extreme need. In the case of Stitch, that can include members in severe financial distress, or who face particular challenges such as being extremely isolated, certain disabilities, or so on.
The charity is able to provide direct assistance to these members, but only to those who qualify as being in "extreme need". We have recently started an assistance campaign where people in need can apply for assistance. More details about this program can be found here:
It should go without saying that most members of Stitch do not qualify as being in "extreme need". That means our assistance program will only ever be able to assist a small percentage of the overall Stitch membership. It will also be constrained by its own resources: the charity relies solely on donations, so will only be able to help people who apply for assistance where we have received donations to allow us to do so.
What about all the other members of Stitch?
Even though the majority of Stitch members do not qualify as being in "extreme need", many of them derive great benefit from being part of the community. That's what Stitch's social enterprise is for.
Stitch's social enterprise is responsible for creating and running the software platform that enables the Stitch Community, as well as providing member support, member support, new member outreach, and so on. The social enterprise is there to improve the lives of all members, regardless of whether they are in "extreme need" or not.
A very simple way of thinking about the two parts of the community is this:
Stitch.net (the social enterprise) provides for all members of the community
WipeOutLoneliness.org (the not-for-profit charity) provides only for members in extreme need
Why do I need to know all that if I just want to donate?
That background is important as it does mean you have a choice about how to donate.
If you want to contribute to the operations of Stitch.net to allow the community to operate for all members, you can do so, but you need to know:
Your donation will be to the Stitch business, not the charity
Your donation will not be tax-deductible
Your donation will contribute to general operational costs
If you want to contribute to WipeOutLoneliness.org in order to provide direct assistance to someone in extreme need, that's absolutely fine too. You just need to know:
Your donation will only be tax-deductible if you are a tax resident of Australia (we do not yet have the financial resources to create the charity in other countries yet, but we hope to do so in the future -- most likely with the assistance of a philanthropic donation)
Your donation will provide direct assistance to someone who applies for assistance from Stitch, in the form of a free Stitch membership or help from one of our Community Enabler volunteers
You may choose to specify who you would like your donation to be directed to, and we will do our best to honor your request. You may request that your donation is provided to someone who is legally blind, for example, or has lost a partner to leukaemia.
OK, I'd like to donate! How do I do it?
We're in the process of setting up a page where you can donate using your credit card online. In the meantime, just send a message to us at Stitch Support (either via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or via the Contact Stitch menu inside Stitch itself) and we'll contact you with instructions. You'll just need to tell us:
How much you'd like to donate, and
Whether your donation is for Stitch.net or WipeOutLoneliness.org
Donations are quite a new thing for the community as we've been able to build the community so far without ever needing to ask for help, so if you've got any feedback or questions about any of the above please send them through to us. Your questions and suggestions can help us make things better for everyone.
Thanks for listening, and thanks for your support.