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Inappropriate types of donation

When disasters strike in Queensland people want to help but sending material goods into a disaster zone can sometimes cause additional challenges. For example, there may not be enough people to help unpack boxes of unknown donated goods or space available to safely store the donated goods.

It's hard to imagine that your generous donations can have negative consequences, but this is often the case.

Here are some reasons why donations can do more harm than good:

  • goods can be damaged during transit and end up in landfill
  • food and medication can spoil, especially in the conditions of a disaster zone
  • the donated goods may not suit the needs of the people affected by a specific disaster or may be culturally inappropriate
  • the volume and rapid influx of physical donations can overwhelm local recovery efforts
  • help is limited in a disaster and there may not be enough people to unpack, sort, store, or distribute the donations
  • similar goods may be available locally, and any donations bought elsewhere mean local businesses, also impacted by disaster, can suffer.

Thanks, but no thanks

Inappropriate donations sent into disaster zones:

  1. A truck load of BBQ chickens
  2. Bags of clothes dropped into streets still flooded
  3. Piles of out-of-date tinned food
  4. Dirty pillows and mattresses
  5. Masses of mouldy animal feed

In August 2011, the South Australian Government, in conjunction with the Attorney-General's department produced the National Guidelines for Managing Donated Goods report. The report stated:

“The 2009 Victorian bushfires resulted in more than 40,000 pallets of goods from across Australia that took up more than 50,000 square metres of storage space. That is twice the size of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) arena. The cost for storage, staff and transport amounted to more than $8 million. Services in the fire affected areas were severely stretched as a result of donations of goods arriving without warning and without resources to sort, store, handle and distribute.”

GIVIT Victorian Bushfire stats

8 million dollars on logistics

How to help

If you would like to help by donating cash, goods and services, please donate online via GIVIT.

GIVIT’s website givit.org.au is an easy, quick and efficient way of donating directly to people in need without overwhelming organisations on the ground. GIVIT is a not-for-profit organisation that captures all donation offers online, removing the burden on others to collect, sort, store and dispose of donations they don’t need. This allows local organisations to focus on delivering their core community services and significantly reduce the administrative and financial cost of managing offers of help.

Importantly, 100% of funds received by GIVIT are used to purchase items and services to support those people impacted by the disaster and as far as possible these purchases are made in affected local areas, helping to support businesses and the community to recover.