I'm involved in a lot of charity fundraising and have been for 15 years. I not only sell good quality crafts for charities but also supply useful crafts directly to those who need them, such as hospitals, agencies and community groups who work with the underprivileged, cancer sufferers etc.
The first information you need when crafting for charity is a list of charities or groups etc that will accept your crafts directly or else find craft ideas and patterns that you can readily and effectively use to fundraise yourself or through your church or your own community group or community centre.
In this post I will be going through sources/ideas of craft patterns etc and supplies that will add to or refresh what you you already do or even how to start from scratch.
A good "library" of patterns is a must. There are cheap ways of doing this but sometimes it is worth paying a few dollars for a pattern that is likely to be a good seller, if you plan to sell your wares.
Personally I believe it is good as in a small business it is important to find a niche market for yourself. What I found is a niche for small fashionable knit, crochet accessories such as hats, fingerless gloves, neck scarves and hairbands including the ear-warmer type. You might like to follow suit. I don't mind. Small items take less yarn and time to make. You are more likely to find willing volunteers to make them up for you too because of this.
I also sell good quality sewn item such as tote bags and BBQ aprons.
Sources of good free patterns: there's always the internet of course. For knitting and crochet patterns Ravelry.com is a great place to start. You can also buy patterns here if you see something that may be both popular and feasible to make up ie you will be able to make a profit from it.
There are many places on the internet for free patterns but many may not be tested thoroughly so warning please read through the patts before you
start or at least be aware there may be errors and you may need to adjust your work as you go to correct it. If the patt has a good photo or tutorial to refer to this may help iron out any mistakes in the written pattern.
If you are willing to pay a little for a quality pattern: AnniesAttic.com had some lovely knit & crochet patts as of course does Ravelry.com available as convenient downloads.
You can find for sale some brilliant sewing patts at Etsy.com.
There are plenty of papercrafts patterns on the net too for backing papers, 3D papers, card making ideas, tea bag folding papers etc as well. Of course you need a printer for these.
There are some great Papercrafting magazines that supply CDs full of papers and card making ideas etc as well and with some imagination and creativity you can use these as inspiration for your own creations. You don't have to use or buy all the supplies recommended in these magazines. You can use what you already have, recycle old greeting cards and use newspapers, wrapping papers and magazine papers
especially for techniques such as Iris Folding etc.
Sometimes E-bay is a cheap source of craft supplies.
as can be yard or garage sales and opportunity shops (charity shops) and $2 shops. Also once the word gets around you are crafting for charity you may receive some donations of supplies and craft books etc from friends and family and your community.
Thanks for "listening" Happy Crafting and All the Best!