A contract was signed, for let’s say $500,000.
A significant amount.
The contract outlines the expectations of both parties.
It aligns their needs and ensures the partnership is mutually beneficial.
Contract signed, money handed over, all is well with the world.
But what happens if there’s no contract, and party one hands its money over to party two based on trust, images and an assumption that party one knows what party two wants to do with the money.
You wouldn’t do it! It’s business suicide.
Now let’s assume that party one is a charity, and that that charity’s name is Red Cross or RFS and a national disaster happens which throws us into a world of fear and helplessness.
What should happen is… if you the consumer/supporter, wanted to understand where your money is going, you would research the charity to understand how their organisation works.
You might follow it up with a call to clarify before you hand over your hard-earned cash.
You’ve done your due diligence and know enough that your money is in good hands.
As we are seeing from our collective reaction to supporting the recent bushfire crisis, this has not happened, and it won’t be the first or last time.
So why so much blaming and shaming? Distrust? Whose fault is this, who should we call into account?
I believe it’s all our fault.
Me – for not speaking up and informing you what you might be giving to. I’m a fundraiser, I knew this would happen.
You – if you’re getting mad and distrusting charities, but didn’t do your research before you handed over the dollars.
And anyone else that wants to rip good people to shreds for doing what they thought was the right thing.
But we all felt helpless, we all wanted to do something – and like the generous country we are, we did.
Let’s rewind the clock…
I’m assuming that the fabulous Celeste Barber decided that she too felt helpless and wondered what she could do. She probably logged onto Facebook and started to write in in a post, something like, “feeling helpless, thank you @NSWRFS for your amazing support”. Then when Facebook algorithm recognised the word ‘support’, threw Celeste a pop-up to create a DONATE NOW button on her page – she didn’t think twice.
She just wanted to ‘do good’. Full stop. Then with the world being in a spin, (I liken the atmosphere to September 11) anyone and everyone, with smoke-filled lungs and sore eyes and also feeling helpless, clicked donate on Celeste’s post.
With the world being in a spin, anyone and everyone with smoke-filled lungs and sore eyes and also feeling helpless clicked donate on Celeste’s post.
Because they too wanted to ‘do good’. Full stop.
When we feel helpless, we don’t think about what we’re doing. We react. It’s science. We hit fight or flight mode and the majority of the donating that happened was us FIGHTing a noble trait until people’s pre-frontal cortexes woke up and said, ‘Oh, wait… what do they actually do, how will my money be spent?’
The amount that has been raised through these fire appeals is phenomenal and it’s still going.
And so is the backlash. But none of this is new. It happened with the Newcastle earthquake, the Pasha Bulker storm, Black Friday, Ash Wednesday, Cyclone Debbie, the drought.
And we still haven’t learned.
Multiple studies have been conducted in the recovery of national disasters in the USA.
In particular, a research study conducted 14 years ago by The Hauser Centre for Not profit Organisations in conjunction with Urban Institute on the aftermath of September 11 and Hurricane Katrina writes, ‘When it comes to donors’ expectations, the combined media, non-profit, and government response to Katrina may have injured the public image of charities, particularly those engaged in larger domestic relief efforts.’
We can’t change what has happened and where the money has gone.
But we can change how we respond in the future to the way we give, and better help communities impacted.
We need to better equip charities to deal with disaster.
The current issue we face is that the smaller community charities aren’t equipped to receive major funding, the larger ones can and they can fight the backlash.
Knowing where you give, and how, could lessen the recovery time of such disasters.