Bairnsdale sign
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Imagine… monstrous bushfires are on the outskirts of your town.  You’re readying your staff, family and community to evacuate or stay and defend.

You’re managing a million life-threatening needs while making another million split second decisions.

Then you get the call…

We’re sending you water.

Did I ask for water?  Do we need water?  How much water?

Whilst offered from genuine good intent, this real-time story resulted in 10 pallets of 750ml bottled water hitting the road to a not-really-nearby town.

Now just to put it into perspective: if one pallet takes up around 16 square feet, imagine how much space 10 pallets of teeny tiny water bottles will take up…

And in the midst of the mayhem, this is on the way to a town with a population around 1000.

No, it’s not going to work.

“Mate, thanks for the offer but we don’t need water – we have plenty, and I’ve nowhere to store that much water”.

So the truck stopped, turned around and took the happy little water bottles back to their warehouse.

But can you imagine if that call wasn’t made?  Our community leader having to find a spot for the water somewhere in the town whilst juggling so many things.  And how valuable is that much water in tiny little plastic bottles?

The hours it would take to fill up a water talk.  The amount of plastic used with no pick up as the garbage trucks were on fire-restrictions.

It got me thinking of the fine line between a donor wanting to help versus the needs of the recipient, and how we need to think of a better process to enable impacted communities to get the right type of help.

So if you are wanting to donate:

  1. Cash is king – because it empowers communities to decide what kind of water they want
  2. Donate based on real needs – ask what is needed, don’t assume it’s what you think they want
  3. Donate differently… don’t follow the crowds, think differently about your donating behaviour and educate yourself so your donation is helpful not harmful

Whether you’re donating as an individual, collective or business… it’s time to start donating differently.

If you are seeking an audit of your bushfire donation strategy or have identified you need a strategic disaster giving plan – please view our solutions and connect to discuss more.

Renae Hanvin
Founder & Director

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