The outpouring of public support that followed the bushfires has created an administrative nightmare for some NSW councils, which have been so inundated by cash, goods and services that they have been forced to close their doors to donations.
But help is in sight with the state government announcing that councils will now have access to the free national online donation management platform GIVIT.
Wollondilly Shire, which takes in the NSW Blue Mountains, last week announced it was no longer taking donations.
Wollondilly said it had received more than $300,000 in cash pledges and had distributed food hampers, essentials and more than 1,000 toys to local families.
“We now have all the donations we need so we are no longer receiving donations of goods and would encourage people instead to contribute financially or to volunteer their time,” CEO Toni Avery said.
Other bushfire LGAs including Wingecarribee, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla and Bega Valley also reached capacity and are no longer able to take any more donations of physical goods.
LGNSW President Linda Scott says the public generosity was much appreciated but had created new problems for councils.
“This kindness has created some logistical challenges, including the need for physical storage, the sorting of donations, and the potential dilemma of having to dispose of unneeded goods,” she said.
She says the announcement last week that NSW councils will able to co-ordinate and manage donations to bushfire-hit communities via GIVIT is welcome news.
A virtual warehouse
Local government minister Shelley Hancock said the state’s 128 councils would have free access to the national not-for-profit organisation, which will act as ‘virtual warehouse’ and coordinate the distribution of goods and services to those in need .
“The Government funding will provide all NSW councils and their local charities access to GIVIT’s donation management platform to co-ordinate donations of goods and services to bushfire-affected communities,” Ms Hancock said.
GIVIT records public and corporate pledges of support and works with councils to match donations to recipients.
The service also includes an online hub linking residents seeking assistance to local support services and money donated is used to buy from local businesses.
“This not only ensures those in need get exactly what they need when they need it most, it also eliminates the need for physical storage and sorting of donations and potential disposal of unwanted goods. This in turn reduces the financial and administrative burden for local councils, recovery agencies and charities,” Ms Hancock said.
GIVIT has previously been used to assist drought-affected communities as well as after Cyclone Debbie in 2017 and other recent fire and flood disasters.
Cr Scott says the gesture from the state would help councils make the most out of the community spirit and generosity shown in the wake of the fires and would make sure goods and services went to the right place at the right time.
“GIVIT is a great example of joint local and State government efforts to minimise the financial and administrative burden placed on councils, recovery agencies, and charities,” she said.
“We’re very glad to see councils and charities are now being supported with the management of logistics, so storing, transporting, sorting and matching these donations to those in need is much easier.”
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