The Australian Government has developed guidelines for the management of donated goods, in the event of a disaster such as bushfire, flood etc.
Public generosity and care following a disaster plays a significant role in individual and community recovery. It reflects broader community sentiment and helps those affected to feel supported, and more positive and confident about the rebuilding tasks ahead. Money is the most useful donation because it provides flexibility and choice to meet immediate needs. It also circulates in the affected community, stimulating faster recovery for the local economy.
However, much of the public’s goodwill results in unsolicited donations of second-hand goods. This response is less helpful and can actually undermine recovery efforts and community resilience. The influx of donated goods quickly exceeds actual need. The sheer quantity of donations often stretches resources and infrastructure, diverting efforts from other aspects of disaster response and recovery.
The guidelines promote the following key activities:
- policy and planning development to embed best practice and incorporate the guidelines and lessons learnt into future responses
- pre-event planning to establish contacts and agreements in advance where possible, both between recovery organisations, non-government organisations, community groups and with corporate donors
- awareness raising to dispel myths and explain more effective donated goods management
- appropriate and timely assessment of needs to guide and provide parameters for any appeals for donations
- early, consistent and clear communication informing why money is the most effective donation
- provision of clear explanations informing why unsolicited donated goods are not helpful
- offering suggestions about alternative ways people can help
- comprehensive post-event evaluation including feedback from recipients.