Connected Giving | January 2020 edition

Welcome to the January edition of Connected Giving, Australian Executor Trustees monthly update on current trends and news in philanthropy.

Philanthropy in a time of crisis

The recent bushfires that have ravaged Australia have generated a global outpouring of financial and in-kind giving. This crisis has both galvanised and split communities – both in Australia and overseas. Many causes have been highlighted including the plight of Australian flora and fauna, support for first responders and impacted communities and policy responses to ongoing environmental concerns such as climate change.

Hundreds of millions of dollars have already been raised in aid of Australia’s national disaster.

In this edition we explore how philanthropy has been used as an effective vehicle to pre-empt, support and respond to Australians during this time of need. We profile one of AET’s own grants to SA Country Fire Services Foundation in 2015 that was aimed at addressing the problem of generational change amongst fire-fighting volunteers. We look at the impact of celebratory giving and the power of positive social media in advocating specific causes. This edition also provides insight on where the donations go.

For more information on how to identify which charities are aligned with your desired impact, please contact us.

Jump to any one of the edition’s articles by clicking the links below:

Preventing bushfires by investing in the next generation of SA CFS volunteers

Much of the news commentary on Australia’s bushfire crisis has centred on questioning why we weren’t better prepared for the catastrophic danger leading into 2020, however the community now is also asking what can we do to prevent this happening next fire season. In 2015, AET began working closely with the Country Fire Services Foundation to build fire-fighting capacity and invest in new generations of volunteers. The foundation’s mission is to provide immediate financial assistance to volunteer firefighters and their families who have suffered through death, injury, loss or damage to property while in the line of service, as well as to enhance expertise among CFS volunteer firefighters. Read the full article (7 mins). 

How Celeste Barber’s bushfire fundraiser went from a trickle to a flood

Within hours of comedian Celeste Barber launching her Facebook crowdfunding campaign for the NSW Rural Fire Service, it had raised $100,000, her goal was $30,000. Now, weeks later her campaign sits closed at over $51 million. A spokeswoman for Facebook said the campaign was “by far and away the biggest ever we’ve seen on our platform”. Read the full article (5 mins). 

Bushfire donations: where will the millions that have been given be spent?

Head of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) , Shane Fitzsimmons, will consult its members before deciding how to spend the extraordinary influx of bushfire donations. The central donations fund exists “solely for the purpose of supporting the volunteer-based fire and emergency service activities of the brigades”. Much talk has been had about how  the Trustee for NSW RFS Donations Fund can distribute funds. The service is also running dedicated fundraising appeals for the families of volunteer firefighters that have died while fighting fires this season. Read the full article (8 mins). 

Ash Barty to donate Brisbane International prize money to bushfire recovery

World number one female tennis player, Ash Barty is the latest prominent voice to pledge support for firefighting efforts across Australia, promising to donate any prize money from the Brisbane International. Other big names offering help include the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Nicole Kidman, Pink, and Nick Kyrgios, among many others. Donations and offers for help are coming in from all directions, including offers for excavation help, food, man-power, and emergency accommodation. Read the full article (5 mins). 

Legal questions complicate how the Rural Fire Service can spend donated millions

At least $70 million has been raised for the NSW Rural Fire Service, other state fire services, the Red Cross and various wildlife charities as part of a global fundraising effort during Australia’s bushfire crisis. Legal experts warn that the RFS trustee can only use money donated “to meet the costs of purchasing and maintaining fire-fighting equipment”, for “training and resources” and the “administrative expenses of the Brigades”. Celeste Barber’s campaign, which currently sits at over $50 million was originally exclusively for the RFS, but she now wishes to include more charities. This process may prove difficult. Read the full article (7 mins). 

Indigenous fire practices have been used to quell bushfires for thousands of years, experts say

As Australia’s bushfire crisis continues, the conversation about using Indigenous and cultural fire practices for prevention and rehabilitation of the land in the spotlight. Oliver Costello, from Firesticks Alliance Indigenous Corporation said that traditional fire practitioners already work alongside some state fire agencies to conduct burns, but on a relatively small scale. In the aftermath of this summer’s bushfire crisis, there has been huge interest from farmers, landowners and communities wanting to learn about traditional burning and how it can help. Read the full article (6 mins). 

Pro Bono Australia launches a Guide to Giving of Bushfire Appeals

In response to this year’s devastating bushfire crisis, we have seen enormous amounts of giving to support communities and families affected by the fires. One of the most effective ways to help is by donating money. Pro Bono Australia has created a directory to help match donors with appeals. This allows people wishing to contribute money to search bushfire appeals and charities along the lines of category, location, tax deductible status and registered charity status to help guide people to the most appropriate causes for them. Read the full article (4 mins). 

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