How much should you give?
It’s really true that every dollar counts. Many charities will give you an indicative idea of how your donation can help – for example, $12 could provide a wellbeing check, $30 could provide a hygiene kit, $88 can help with emergency shelter, and so on.
Don’t be put off if you don’t have much, and don’t feel pressured to give beyond your means. Every bit helps and we’re always grateful for it.
Expectation vs reality
The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission found that while charities responding to last summer’s bushfires did so in a credible and professional way, “there was a gap between the public’s expectations of charities and the reality of responding to a disaster”.
When people donate, they sometimes expect their donations to get to affected people within days or weeks. The reality is that disaster recovery takes time. After the bushfires, it took months before most people felt ready to come forward for help, and patchy or inconsistent records of fire damage made it very difficult to determine even who was affected and how much damage was done.
While a charity should keep you informed of its progress and impact, be aware that many are trying to manage a large and complex crisis with very limited resources and a largely volunteer-based workforce.
Be an informed donor
It’s a good idea to subscribe to charity updates, so you can see how your donations are being used. You can also look through charity annual reports for information on their achievements, management structure and finances.
If you don’t get updates from the source, it can be easy to be disillusioned by things you see in the media or online.
If you have questions or concerns about a charity, ask them directly. Call their offices, drop them an email or ask on social media. Good charities work hard to maintain the trust of their supporters and answer questions honestly and in good faith. They don’t, however, have to respond to abuse.