Updated: 20 April 2020

Australia’s summer of extreme weather events and natural disasters continues. In addition to disastrous bushfires and weeks of bushfire smoke turning the air we breathe into a hazard in many places, there has now been news of rain causing flash flooding in Queensland, a massive dust storm in NSW and a hail storm wreaking havoc in Canberra.

Community Foundations have an essential role in emergency response, recovery and rebuilding, and fostering resilient communities for the future.

In Australia, natural disasters including drought, fires and floods are a regular part of the life cycle. A significant number of Australia’s Community Foundations have been established in response to such disasters. For example, early this century governments and philanthropy supported the creation of regional community foundations throughout the country in the context of the millennium drought, while in Victoria five new foundations were established with seed funding from the Victorian Bushfire Appeal Fund following the 2009 Black Saturday fires.

The extraordinary bushfires of summer 2019/20 affected several communities where a local Community Foundation operates:

These and other fire-impacted communities will need a great deal of help for years to come.

Meanwhile, attention from the media, politicians and the public has moved on to the national and global COVID-19 crisis. By definition, a national crisis impacts all Community Foundations and the communities they serve.

If you are in a position to support communities needing help to cope with the aftermath of fires or the effects of the pandemic shut-down – or both – ACP strongly recommends directing support to community foundations where those exist.

A Community Foundation is part of the community affected by the disaster or emergency. Its leaders are locals; in many cases, they are among the volunteer first responders. They live and work in the area and understand first-hand the needs for life-saving immediate help and the needs that emerge later –for assistance with re-building, economic stimulus and mental health support, for instance. A Community Foundation will continue to work in that community long after the media, politicians and major charities have moved on to the next issue.

To direct help to regional places that do not have a local Community Foundation, contact the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. FRRR, a member of ACP and leading supporter of the Community Foundation sector, is structuring long-term support through its Disaster Resilience & Recovery Fund and Strengthening Rural Communities programsTo find out more, visit their website.

Philanthropy response to 2020 bushfires

ACP leading members the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Australian Communities Foundation were among the earliest philanthropy organisations to make practical support available in response to the fires. Thank you!

Gandel Philanthropy and the Minderoo Foundation, both funders and project partners of ACP that have a strong commitment to supporting local communities and Community Foundations, have also allocated significant grants to bushfire response and recovery.

We salute their generosity and community spirit.

What ACP is doing

ACP has been collating and sharing information among the Community Foundation network. We are promoting funding needs in affected areas to potential funders and advocating for Community Foundations as essential partners to work with government and charities in local recovery efforts. We are offering our members opportunities for peer support at this challenging time and are liaising with international counterparts who are offering support.

International support

In times of adversity it helps lift the spirit to know that we are not alone. As large parts of Australia were ablaze in January 2020, the global Community Foundation network showed us once again us what an amazing community it is.

ACP acknowledges with sincere thanks the messages of support and offers of help we have received from our colleagues from Community Foundations of New Zealand, UK Community Foundations, Community Foundations of Canada, and the Center on Foundations in the USA.

There have been offers to share resources about disaster giving and disaster resilience. And some have simply asked: “Where can we send money?”

Prompted by the bushfires, we have now connected with online giving platform Global Giving aiming to develop new opportunities and create something positive from this summer’s calamity.

In the meantime, on behalf of Australia’s Community Foundations: thank you all for your kindness and generosity.

Community Foundations have an essential role in disaster response, rebuilding, long-term recovery and fostering resilient communities. A Community Foundation is part of the affected community, understands local needs first-hand, and will continue to work in and with that community long after the media, politicians and major charities have moved on.

If you are looking for ways to donate to a community impacted by this summer’s natural disasters, a community-owned and -led Community Foundation is an ideal charitable option. Community Foundations most directly impacted include:

*Where appeals are hosted by third parties, the link will take you to the appeal, not to the relevant Foundation’s homepage.  Use the ACP member listing to access the various Foundation websites.

To direct help to places that do not have a local Community Foundation, contact the Foundation for Rural and Regional Renewal. FRRR, also a member and supporter of ACP and the Community Foundation sector, is structuring long-term support through its Disaster Resilience & Recovery Fund and Strengthening Rural Communities programTo find out more, visit their website.

Philanthropy response

ACP leading members the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation and Australian Communities Foundation were among the earliest philanthropy organisations to make practical support available in response to the fires. Thank you!

Gandel Philanthropy and the Minderoo Foundation, both funders and project partners of ACP that have a strong commitment to supporting local communities and Community Foundations, have also allocated significant grants to bushfire response and recovery.

We salute their generosity and community spirit.

What ACP is doing

ACP is collating and sharing information among the Community Foundation network. We are promoting funding needs in affected areas to potential funders and advocating for Community Foundations as essential partners to work with government and charities in local recovery efforts. We are offering our members opportunities for peer support at this challenging time and are liaising with international counterparts who are offering support.

Our long-standing advocacy for DGR reform continues. As Community Foundations throughout the country seek to raise funds and to distribute funding for bushfire recovery, they continue to be hampered in their exhausting volunteer efforts by regulatory red tape. We are calling on the Federal Government to expedite DGR reform for Community Foundations. This is a simple, practical and low-cost policy change able to be implemented immediately. ACP stands ready to work with the relevant Ministers to bring about this much needed reform.

International support

In times of adversity it helps lift the spirit to know that we are not alone. The global Community Foundation network is once again showing us what an amazing community it is.

ACP acknowledges with sincere thanks the messages of support and offers of help we have received from our colleagues from Community Foundations of New Zealand, UK Community Foundations, Community Foundations of Canada, and the Center on Foundations in the USA.

There have been offers to share resources about disaster giving and disaster resilience. And some US Community Foundations have simply asked: “Where can we send money?”

Prompted by the bushfires, we have now connected with online giving platform Global Giving aiming to develop new opportunities and create something positive from this summer’s calamity.

In the meantime, on behalf of Australia’s Community Foundations: thank you all for your kindness and generosity.


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