The topic of bushfire donations continually brings a range of responses. Some local residents feel there were too many physical items donated and it hurt the economy, others say it was done in the right spirit and was desperately needed, yet others say donations should all be made in the form of cash or vouchers.
Many wonder why millions of dollars in donations are still tied up in grant procedures and charitable giving rules.
The issue is complicated by the sheer number of donors and charitable organisations which want to help each time there is a disaster like the Black Summer fires.
Recognising the challenges around the donations, not-for-profit ‘GIVIT’ was funded by the NSW Government to help manage the logistics of the cash, items and services which came into fire-affected regions last summer.
GIVIT Regional NSW Manager Caroline Odgers and her team have been coordinating tens-of-thousands of donated items to support communities from the Snowy Valleys to Shoalhaven to Bega Valley and Snowy Monaro as residents continue to recover from the bushfires.
“Recovery is a long process. GIVIT’s service is a crucial component of recovery to ensure communities, charities and local business are supported long term,” she said.
Ms Odgers said GIVIT fills an important role in registering all the available items, logging them in a ‘virtual warehouse’ and connecting donations with charities across the country.
“While we love providing large items like beds, fridges and replacement equipment for farmers, some bushfire-affected communities are still in the clean-up stage. That’s why donations of generators, grocery vouchers and simple hardware tools are still so important.”
Ms Odgers said many local councils and charities were overwhelmed with the truckloads of items that arrived during the fires.
Since January 2020, GIVIT has coordinated more than 120,000 donated items for bushfire-affected regions as part of the partnership with the NSW Government. Most of those items were water tanks, hardware tools, generators and everyday household items for southern NSW towns and remote communities.
They’ve successfully “rehomed” most of the excess donations which were left at evacuation shelters and with local councils last summer. Now, the organisation is urging more charities and service providers to register with the service, to continue dispersing any donations which come in.
The registration process is free and enables community groups to search GIVIT’s warehouse for various items and reserve whatever they need. 100 cent of funds which are donated to GIVIT are used to purchase “urgent and essential items for Australians in need”, and are spent with local businesses whenever possible.
GIVIT’s partnership with the NSW Government began shortly after the bushfires passed through the Snowy Valleys.
Ms Odgers said it would have been beneficial for the online portal to be functioning before pallets upon pallets were dropped off in the Snowy Valleys, but they were able to help redistribute the items as the fire response began to ease.
GIVIT has been the official partner of the Queensland Government since 2013, managing offers of assistance after disasters. They have already distributed more than 14,000 items during the current QLD bushfire season and over 225,000 items after the 2019 Queensland flooding.
GIVIT helped distribute more than 17,000 items to people in need after the 2018 Queensland bushfires and after 2017’s Tropical Cyclone Debbie coordinated the donation of 92,000 items.
Since 2018, GIVIT has also partnered with the NSW Government to provide a Drought Relief Program, distributing over 100,000 donated items to drought-affected households from Tenterfield to Deniliquin.
To learn more, or to register or donate, visit www.givit.org.au.