Solange Ardiles works as a Victorian Manager for GIVIT, a not-for-profit organisation that matches generosity with genuine need. “Since joining GIVIT, I have seen the raw end of being impacted by the fires,” Solange said.
“When I think of the things some people – some children – have seen and lived through, I want to do the best I can to make their recovery process as seamless and comfortable as possible.”
Solange said she joined GIVIT because she never quite understood the ineffective, even harmful, impact misdirected donating has on a community.
“I have to admit I was one of the people that loaded my car and went to a drop-off point.”
She said she started to question these donations.
“Did these communities really need the items I was donating? Were the drop-off points I saw on social media legitimate, planned, and coordinated? Were the communities in a position to receive these goods, sort, and store them? As a member of the community, I had lost trust in the way charities ran their operations. This was validated when many stories of redirected bushfire funds made the news headlines after the fires. So, I always preferred to give goods instead of money.”
Solange said imposing unwanted support services and unsolicited donated goods on community members was a problem. For example, she said some donations of excess, inappropriate, or poor-quality items ended up sitting in containers in Mallacoota and Corryong. Sorting and distributing these unwanted donations has taken months and valuable resources.
GIVIT is working with other charities who are also overwhelmed with unsolicited donations. One organisation based in Adelong, in the NSW Snowy Valleys, received donations of businesswear and nappies, although the group was made up of retirees. GIVIT has arranged for these donations to be collected and redistributed to family services in Bega who are in urgent need of these items.
The GIVIT team has been working in collaboration with local government agencies, councils, and support agencies on-the-ground. The organisation has played an active role in a water tanks working group that is providing access to clean drinking water in Victoria’s north-east.
GIVIT is using donated funds to pay for local tradesman for the site preparation, installation, and certification of water tanks for residents affected by the fires.