The recent floods in Australia have prompted a number of fundraiser and charity events, including concerts, TV shows and social media campaigns. The general sentiment of people though is clear, they don't want to donate again. Not after the bushfire debacle, not to the big charities.
In 2019 parts of Australia suffered through some of the worst bushfires a lot of us have seen. Images and videos filled the internet depicting the terrifying conditions both people and animals were enduring. After the fires came the stories of destruction, the pictures of burnt and injured animals, people sifting through their still-smoldering houses looking for anything that might of survived. Not much did.
As we watched parts of our country burn, people all over the world opened their hearts and their wallets for us. People from all over the globe saw our plight on T.V and the internet and they stepped up to donate their hard earned money to try and help.
But what happened to the money?
Where did the donations go?
Approximately 500 million dollars was donated during the bushfires including from celebrities, business and regular people all around the globe. It is the largest amount ever received for an Australian disaster.
A majority of the money went to 3 main charities. The Red Cross, the Salvation army and St Vincent de paul.
All 3 have now (2 years on) claimed to of spent a majority of the money, but there is very little transparency about where or what the funds were spent on.
A Huge amount was donated to WIRES, an organisation dedicated to helping wildlife in NSW and supporting wildlife carers and rescuers. Most of the money raised has not been spent, it is sitting in accounts accruing interest.
Carers all over the country are having applications for funds knocked back and struggling to support the animals in their care. Animals that are still suffering from the destruction of their habitat and now have floods to contend with as well.
Celeste barbers fundraiser ended up being a flop and the money couldn't be donated anywhere but the NSW RFS. (New south wales rural fire service) Given this was in excess of 50 million dollars surely we could expect some sort of great increase in their capabilities. Again there is very little transparency of where this money has been spent within the organisation.
Firefight concert raised a huge amount, somewhere in excess of $10 million. One of the beneficiaries of this was the "Bushfire volunteers" organisation. A group of volunteer firefighters based in Western Australia... The opposite side of the country. How Western Australian firefighters could help the East coast recovery is still waiting to be seen...
The RSPCA was another beneficiary of funds from the firefight concert but has no mention anywhere of receiving any funds from the event. So far as we can tell the money just kind of dissapeared.
Excuses given by the Red Cross.
The Red Cross is possibly the largest charity in Australia and received an enormous percentage of the donations for the bushfire appeal. 6 months after the fires there was still a multitude of people living in tents and homeless, unable to return to their properties or live in their destroyed homes.
The Red Cross made a statement “Our long experience responding to disasters, including the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009, has shown us that recovery, including rebuilding, dealing with trauma and other mental health impacts, re-establishing strong social networks and having access to information and services takes many years,"
Essentially they have earmarked funds for the future for the long-term rebuild, something which many people were unhappy about given there were still people homeless 6 months on.
In the end the red cross has donated all of the funds allocated for the bushfire relief including the 4% administration fees. 4% of 250 million is still 10 million but eh. We forget however that these charities whilst holding the money, are likely making interest off of it.
For the future.
Although a large amount was given out there is still unaccounted for funds. People who donated thinking it would help particular causes discovered there was limitations on their donations that meant the people they were intended for wouldn't receive them. Including Celeste Barbers fundraiser, and WIRES receiving most of the donations which meant only NSW carers were entitled to help and leaving Victoria dry.
Most small organisations and rescues consist of nothing but volunteers. There are no "administration costs", they don't make any money for themselves and the donations go where they are intended.
If during the next disaster you wish to help please donate straight to a shelter or rescue individually. If donating for people look for a small community group that distributes the money fairly to those in need and most of all avoid the big charities Administration costs, misappropriation of funds, shady deals, all are common and huge amounts of money are wasted lining pockets and paying unnecessary fees.
Consider where your hard earned money is going next time you donate.