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Bushfire Response – Reviews of three Australian Charities

The ACNC has conducted a review of the performance of Australian Red Cross, NSW Rural Fire Service and WIRES during the 2019-20 bushfire crisis.

By mid-January 2020, it became evident that there was a significant gap between public expectation of how bushfire donations should be spent and how rapidly the money could be distributed and the reality for organisations responding to the disaster.  These three charities were chosen for review because they received significant donations, attracted high levels of public interest, and worked in a variety of areas and fields affected by the bushfires.  ACNC reviews are no normally published, but the three organisations consented for the findings to be made public.

The review found the charities acted legally and responsibly, allocating funds to bushfire response programs and their delivery, and protecting donations from fraud.

“The charities balanced immediate relief with the need to supply funds for the long-term recovery phase,” the review said.

It’s not to say the charities didn’t face difficulties during this period. Changing demand and donation levels, difficulty identifying legitimate fire victims, combating fraud, and third-party fundraising efforts that meant charities could not control messaging to the public leading to confusion amongst donors, were all highlighted as major challenges in the review.

To view the ACNC Review in full, click here

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