Bushfire Relief: Make your Heartfelt Donations Count
Are you called to help those affected by the devastating bushfires at the moment? The needs of first responders, victims and affected communities are great and varied during this time, and it's the services and charities on the frontline who are best placed to know what is needed and where. Monetary donations can often be one of the most useful ways to help services like charities, fire brigades and animal rescue, however donations need to be carefully considered so your heartfelt contribution makes a difference.
It is heart warming to see tens of millions in donations flood in amid the bushfire crisis and social media and the news is alive with stories and links that are inspiring. Unfortunately, Australia’s consumer watchdog, ACCC, has just announced that heartless scammers are cashing in on the outpouring of support and has advised the best ways to ensure your money is giving to the right organisations, amid reports that hundreds have been fleeced by pretending to be legitimate well-known charities, or impersonating people that have been affected by the bushfires, and setting up fake websites, social media pages and crowdfunding. Given anyone can set up a page, fraud is a possibility, and the ACCC recommend that you do not donate via fundraising pages on platforms without verifying the legitimacy of the fundraiser.
Where to check: The ACCC recommend that if you are donating money, ensure the organisation is registered and that you are on its official website by searching the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register. https://www.acnc.gov.au/
A dedicated line set up by the ACCC to report any scams has been set up this week: 1300 795 995.
Is your donation deductible? Compassion for others during this disaster period is commendable, and the question about deductibility of your donation is often asked in the months following a disaster, sometimes to have disappointment in the answer. We want you to have the facts, especially when you can give to legitimate organisations that qualify and are also frontline responders in the current bushfire crisis. Taking this step also will protect you from scammers.
You can only claim a tax deduction for gifts or donations over $2 to organisations that have ‘deductible gift recipient’ (DGR) status. A deductible gift recipient (DGR) is an organisation or fund that can receive tax deductible gifts. Not all charities are DGRs. For example, in recent times crowdfunding campaigns have become a popular way to raise money for charitable causes. However, many of these crowdfunding websites are not run by DGRs, therefore donations to these campaigns aren't tax deductible, and some may not even be legitimate. https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Income-and-deductions/Deductions-you-can-claim/Other-deductions/Gifts-and-donations/
ATO Help for Bushfire Affected people: The Australian Taxation Office are offering support for those impacted by the bushfires. For identified impacted postcodes they will automatically grant deferrals for lodgements and payments due, and for other areas, they have set up a support line for assistance: 1800 806 218. For more information: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Dealing-with-disasters/In-detail/Specific-disasters/Bushfires-2019-20/
Australian Government financial assistance: The Australian Government is working alongside local communities to assist in times of crisis by providing financial assistance to individuals and the states and territories to provide support and help with disaster recovery costs. The information contained on below website details available assistance for current disasters as well as links to assistance and responses to previous disasters that have impacted Australians, both in Australia and overseas. https://www.disasterassist.gov.au/Pages/home.aspx
Where to give:
The needs of first responders and victims are great and varied and it's the services and charities on the frontline who are best placed to know what is needed and where. Monetary donations can often be one of the most useful ways to help services like charities, fire brigades and animal rescue.
Here are some organisations that you may wish to consider that are frontline in this crisis. Whatever organisation you choose, remember to check the site above for their legitimacy.
Queensland Government backed Givit is coordinating donations of items across Australia (plus monetary donations which are 100% used for the recipient): http://www.givit.org.au/items-needed Bendigo Bank Bushfire Appeal: https://www.bendigobank.com.au/appeals/bushfire-appeals/
Australian Red Cross: https://www.redcross.org.au/campaigns/disaster-relief-and-recovery-donate
The Salvation Army Disaster Appeal: https://www.salvationarmy.org.au/donate/make-a-donation/donate-online/?appeal=disasterappeal Foodbank (food or money): https://www.foodbank.org.au/
State Fire Services: Queensland: https://rfbaq.org/donate-to-a-specific-brigade
South Australia: https://cfsfoundation.org.au/donate
New South Wales: https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au/volunteer/support-your-local-brigade Kangaroo Island Recovery Bushfire Fund (backed by SA government): https://www.kangarooisland.sa.gov.au/notice-board/latest-news/ki-mayoral-relief-and-recovery-bushfire-fund
Disasters and Animals – What to do: https://www.rspcaqld.org.au/what-we-do/disasters-and-alerts
RSPCA Bushfire Appeal:
New South Wales: https://www.rspcansw.org.au/bushfire-appeal/
Koala Foundation: https://www.savethekoala.com/ Wires (NSW) Emergency Fund for Wildlife: https://www.facebook.com/donate/1386120504919105/10158318179549750/