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Donating in emergencies
The best way to help individuals and communities is to donate money. This allows people to buy exactly what they need. If they spend this money within their local community it also helps local businesses to recover.
Various appeals may be organised after a disaster. Check the credentials of any organisation asking for donations to avoid illegitimate collectors or scammers. Also check whether donations are tax deductible.
State Emergency Relief Fund (SERF)
During emergencies the government may activate the State Emergency Relief Fund (SERF).
The SERF Committee is independent of government and is responsible for the fair distribution of 100% of the funds to those most in need.
Tax deductible donations to the SERF can be made in a number of ways.
- electronic funds transfer
- credit card
Wildlife Recovery Fund
In partnership with the Nature Foundation SA, National Parks and Wildlife Service South Australia has launched the Wildlife Recovery Fund.
This fund will be used to re-establish habitat for wildlife, particularly threatened and vulnerable species, in bushfire-affected regions in South Australia.
During a major disaster there are usually a wide range of appeals raising funds for those affected by the event. Unfortunately some of these are scams.
If you wish to make a donation, protect yourself with the following information:
- Scammers pretend to be legitimate well-known charities, creating their own charity names, and impersonating people negatively impacted by the disaster.
- Scammers use cold-calling, direct messaging and fake websites and pages on social media to raise funds.
- Don't donate through fundraising pages on platforms that do not verify the legitimacy of the fundraiser or that do not guarantee your money will be returned if the page is determined to be fraudulent.
- Be careful about crowdfunding requests as these may be fake and also come from scammers. Check the terms and conditions of funding platforms and ensure you are dealing with official organisations. If you are unsure, make your donation to an established charity instead.
- If you are donating to an established charity or not-for-profit organisation, ensure it is registered and that you are on its official website by searching the Australia Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Charity Register.
- If you think you have paid money to a scammer, please contact your bank immediately.
While donating second-hand goods and clothing may seem generous, it takes time and resources away from the important work of helping those affected by disaster when charities and recovery workers have to administer, store, distribute and dispose of such donations.
Also, donated goods often do not meet actual needs. Recovery organisers will appeal for specific items as needed.
Corporate donations are coordinated by the State Recovery Office, part of the Department of Human Services. Companies are encouraged to donate cash where possible.
For corporate offers of goods and services, companies are invited to contact the State Recovery Office email DHS.StateRecoveryOffice@sa.gov.au to discuss the details of their offer, the need for the goods or services in the affected community and delivery, storage and distribution.
Please register with the State Recovery Office if you wish to offer:
- in-kind professional services - services commonly needed include provision of information or advice, counselling and support, engineering, project management, logistics, trades and transportation
- use of a facility - eg a warehouse, storeroom, conference centre, gymnasium, car park or other facility
- use of specialised equipment including appliances, instruments, implements, devices, machinery, software and tools - if ownership of the item is transferred, this is considered a donated good and if a skilled operator is supplied to operate the equipment, this is considered a donated service.
How to help after an emergency factsheet - Australian Red Cross