Celeste Barber to meet lawyers over $52m bushfire donations

Staggering monies raised may not get to communities hardest hit without a solution.

Lawyers will meet to try to break a deadlock over the $52m raised in bushfire relief funds by Celeste Barber’s Facebook campaign.

Barber originally directed funds to the NSW RFS Brigades Donations Fund, but was unaware money sent to this fund is only used on training, resources and fire equipment – not the volunteers and their families or fire-affected communities.

The $52million has been transferred from GoFundMe to a trust fund run by the RFS – but none of it has been spent.

While Barber initially pledged to the NSW RFS and Brigades Donation Fund, she quickly changed the terms of her appeal to take into account other states battling the devastating bushfires.

She widened the appeal and wanted to share the money with Victorian and South Australian firefighting agencies, animal welfare group WIRES, the Red Cross and the widows of fallen firefighters.

Spokesman Ben Shepherd insisted the RFS wanted to honour her wishes.

“No one is being bad about this, it’s all very amicable, and we will try and see her wishes through. But, as it stands, the RFS is the beneficiary and we can’t donate money people gave us to other charities,” he said.

Barber’s fundraiser broke a world record by becoming the single largest hosted on Facebook globally.

Barber hosts today’s Fire Fight Australia concert, seen on Seven and Foxtel.

Source: Sunday Telegraph

10 Responses

  1. I think her intentions in fundraising are respectable. Though along with lawyer fees, there could also trustee fees and possibly other fees if they are charged.

    I think with operating and donating to charity, whether it be charities used by telethons, television events or charities in general, I do research first to find out where the funds go to and how much is spent on administration costs, such as bills, commissions, advertising, salaries and wages, fundraising, rents and other overhead costs. Many charities are notorious for spending only a small percentage of monies donated to actual frontline services where the money is needed most. This includes charities that claim to be non-profit.

    1. This is a far more nuanced argument. Some charities are run by volunteers, but many – generally larger ones – do have operating costs. That’s just the reality. Admonishing those with overheads is not entirely fair and is always care by case. Do you expect the people who work full time for these places not to be paid?

      1. I think it’s not a matter of whether the charity has overheads and that staff are paid but whether the payments are fair, such as bonuses and perks especially for charity managerial or executive staff that are included in administration costs, and that the charity funds are being managed appropriately. There are large variances in admin costs and frontline services for large and small charities alike.

    1. Yep, I think she did an incredible job but I always research where a third party is involved. I had contemplated donating to Celeste Barbers campaign but decided to split my donations across Red Cross, CFA Victoria, NSW RFS and Wires directly.

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