8 Jan 2020

Nathalie Whitaker on crisis donation

From Summer Times, 9:14 am on 8 January 2020

There has been an ongoing storm on social media about donations and fundraising for supporting those impacted by the fires in Australia.

But are those donations useful and what issues are there with crowdfunding during and in the immediate aftermath of a disaster? Nathalie Whitaker was founder of Givealittle.co.nz and has seen these issues first hand. 

A kangaroo jumps in a field amidst smoke from a bushfire in Snowy Valley on the outskirts of Cooma

Photo: AFP

Whitaker says it’s a great thing that people want to donate but people need to recognise that making a donation won’t address or fix the problem and we need to ask more of ourselves. 

“My time with Givealittle as the founder helped me see that we have incredible capacity, particularly within New Zealand, to be generous when we’re confronted with problems and tragedy. But, we often struggle to be as generous to the solution that may avoid these situations occurring in the first place.

“We need to work out how we can feel as confident and as satisfied giving to causes and solutions that don’t pull on our emotional heartstrings, because those solutions really are the most powerful ways that we can have an impact and make change.”

She says that because we’re so bombarded with news 24 hours a day, we build up a resistance to tragedies. 

“It’s emotionally and mentally impossible to care about everything that we might see in social media or might consume when we watch the news because otherwise we’d just be in a complete state all the time.” 

Whitaker says the Australian fires are a good example of the kind of event Kiwis are likely to respond to. It’s close to home, many of us have family and friends in the country, and we’ve even been able to see the red smoky skies across New Zealand. 

She suggests that if people want to make a meaningful contribution to the combatting the fires, they target their donations to places where government money is unlikely to reach. 

“Secondly, we should be looking at native reforestation programmes because effectively what’s occurred is a huge amount of loss of habitat and we’ve lost trees that were sequestering carbon and that has compounded the issue that potentially has had the biggest influence on the scale of these fires.” 

Read Nathalie Whitaker's full Newsroom piece here.

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