Unsolicited Drought Donations Hampering Charity Relief Efforts
14 September 2018 at 4:20 pm
Drought-affected communities say Australians’ misplaced generosity is hampering the relief efforts of charities on the ground, but one not for profit is coordinating the social sector’s response to ensure people get the help they need.
Online charity GIVIT has partnered with the New South Wales government to manage offers of assistance for farmers, their families and rural communities experiencing hardship during the drought.
The charity said the carloads of unsolicited food hampers and tin cans arriving in drought-stricken towns was well meaning, but not the help that was needed.
One grazier from the western Queensland-NSW border said on radio recently, that while residents were grateful for the support, they did not need food hampers or second-hand clothing.
“We’re not starving and we don’t need old, dirty clothes,’’ she said.
GIVIT CEO and founder Juliette Wright told Pro Bono News the influx of items that could be purchased in local communities through donated gift cards was seriously damaging the viability of small towns.
“When people see what people are suffering in drought-affected areas they want to help and it’s phenomenal. But people are also delivering things that aren’t needed in particular areas,” Wright said.
“We are finding there’s a lot of food sent out to these communities, and this has negatively impacted the retailers and the small traders in town who are doing it tough.
“So our goal is to make sure people actually get what they need. It’s a win-win because it benefits the people that are affected and also the local economy.”
In Cobar NSW, farmers and their families are struggling during this drought. They need help to buy food, fuel, water supplies, and general living expenses. Please help by donating funds so we can provide much-needed grocery and fuel gift cards. #drought
— GIVIT (@GIVIT_AUS) September 13, 2018
The 2018 NSW Business Chamber Drought Survey revealed 84 per cent of businesses and 94 per cent of retailers and traders were adversely impacted by the drought.
GIVIT works with hundreds of local charities, schools and community service providers, to connect those in need with people willing to give.
The charity uses a donation portal eliminating the need to sort and store items, only holding items requested by a registered charity supporting someone in need.
Wright said this could mean anything from “a set of tyres for a ute, a replacement hot water system because they are taking cold showers or even a school uniform”.
She said it was important to coordinate the social sector’s relief efforts for the long-term recovery ahead.
“All of the charities and not for profits involved in drought recovery are meeting regularly, and using GIVIT as the database of donations that have been offered by the community,” she said.
“So what we’re trying to do is coordinate the relief, because communities are going to be doing it tough for a couple of years. And we’re here for the long-term recovery.”
Wright said it was vital the community continued to help with this long-term recovery, even after the media and politicians turned their attention elsewhere.
“GIVIT is quite experienced at working with natural disasters and particularly massive weather events like Cyclone Debbie,” she said.
“And we’re still doing requests for Cyclone Debbie, so we understand when people have long forgotten that communities are suffering in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
“It’s essential once the media has gone that support doesn’t go as well.”