Australia’s in the midst of one of the most devastating bushfire seasons in its history, leaving millions of hectares across the nation burnt. With thousands of Australians without homes, many individuals and families are stranded with little more than the clothes on their back.
That’s where GIVIT come in. Backed by NRMA, GIVIT, is a unique Australian organisation that acts as a “matchmaker” between those who need support, and people who want to offer their help in some way. And with thousands of Australians displaced during today’s bushfire crisis, GIVIT is especially important in connecting specific donated items and services to those with specific needs and requests.
“It started in Queensland ten years ago when founder Juliette Wright wanted to donate baby clothes but didn’t want to put them in the good Samaritan bin that was overflowing,” says GIVIT’s CEO Sarah Tennant.
What was clear to Juliette is that although charities were receiving generous handouts from the community, they weren’t necessarily needed. Sarah explains that GIVIT is an online donation platform, like a “virtual warehouse” where people can ask the community what they required.
“When you think of making a charitable donation you don’t usually think of a trampoline, a boxing bag or a microwave. But it turns out these items are exactly what some people - who are down on their luck – things that make a huge difference to their lives,” says Sarah.
Anyone can now log on to GIVIT and see a list of needs in their local area by simply punching in their postcode. “Our virtual warehouse is full of amazing items and has relieved pressure on local services to store, sort and ultimately dispose of well meaning, unwanted donations”.
It’s at times of disaster that the GIVIT model really makes a difference. “Following disasters Australians are incredibly generous, they see the vision on the news, they want to donate but often it’s not the right item or it’s not the right time,” explains Sarah.
“After bushfires, a lot of people haven’t got a house to put anything in yet, so the generous donation of a bed or a couch is actually hindering recovery efforts. By pledging into the virtual warehouse people hold onto that item, and when (and if) it’s needed, we help make it happen. This way you’re enabling communities to take their own lead in the recovery.”
GIVIT is also committed to buying locally to support struggling communities.
“I had the pleasure of ringing a small mixed business owner in Baffle Creek following the fires last year and asked if we could purchase $5,000 worth of vouchers to hand out to locals who were doing it really tough,” recalls Sarah.
“This lovely gentleman burst into tears and said what a difference that made to his business - he was planning on telling his kids that Santa wasn’t coming this year”.
This week Sarah has assisted with the donation of a large industrial freezer to theGranite Belt Neighbourhood Centre in Stanthorpe. “Just after the fires they were offered so many wonderful donations of food and meals, but they had nowhere to store it and it was being wasted, so we were able to get them a large freezer,” she says. “It also helps to build resilience and will give them the capacity to be prepared for next time – which hopefully never comes.”
Sarah says founder Juliette still speaks of the overwhelming feeling she had when GIVIT’s first donation was made. “An elderly man had lost his wife and all he needed was a microwave so he could heat up meals - it was gifted by someone living just around the corner from him”.
GIVIT’s now supports 3000 charities across the country and has matched much needed items and services “matchmaker” for over 1.4 million donations.