As floods devastated Northern NSW and South East QLD, Baby Give Back quickly got to work supporting hundreds of families. Here’s how they raised the money to make that happen.
2022 brought with it some of Australia’s worst flooding in history, causing widespread devastation across Queensland and New South Wales, claiming 22 lives and causing an estimated $1.5 billion in damage, with almost 100,000 insurance claims already in the works.
As the disaster unfolded, thousands of people were losing their homes, belongings and access to basic essentials, holding nothing but their loved ones as they were pulled from the rooftops of submerged buildings by brave rescuers.
The response – from nonprofits and community members alike – was a shining beacon of hope and humanity in the darkest of times. And in amongst those responding was children’s material aid charity, Baby Give Back.
“As soon as I realised the catastrophic level of the flooding across northern NSW and South East Queensland, I immediately knew that Baby Give Back was well placed to help. I knew that our team and our supporters would jump straight into action and that we were positioned to be able to grow our operations immediately. We are a very agile organisation with experience in collecting donations from the community and channeling support in a practical, customised way to families in need.” says Carly Fradgley, the organisation’s CEO.
F&P’s Fiona Atkinson caught up with Erin Davies, Baby Give Back’s Fundraising & Communications Manager, to find out more.
What kind of support did Baby Give Back provide during the floods?
It was important for us to understand exactly what affected communities needed, as the situation was changing rapidly. Our CEO, Carly, made a trip down to Lismore with essential baby items in the first week of flooding to connect with contacts and to understand what was needed and how Baby Give Back and the community could best help.
Our first concern was to get the absolute essentials – such as nappies, wipes and formula – to families who were impacted. This was often a hard situation, as many families were still cut off without any way to access them.
Carly connected with a family who own Scheffe Motors in Lismore. They had set up an emergency support centre in their shed so that locals could come and access what they needed. This became a base for essentials and, together, we were able to utilise our contacts to get more supplies out to families.
We worked on connecting with other affected areas and would receive daily requests for items such as food, water, gumboots, cleaning products and power-boards [many of which are not items that Baby Give Back would normally distribute].
In what ways did Baby Give Back work with relief agencies, local councils and other nonprofits during this time?
We were already connected with many family support caseworkers and other charitable organisations in flood-affected areas and we reached out to them to let them know we were able to help with what they needed. We also connected with people like Anthony from clothing aid charity, Thread Together, to collaborate.
Due to the scale of devastation it was difficult to find one main agency who was in control, which is why it was important that we made trips each day to see where support was needed.
We had to change our usual order model to work directly with families so that we could provide immediate support. [Baby Give Back ordinarily provides material essentials for babies and children via social service agencies].
What is the BGB Support Squad?
We started the BGB Support Squad as so many members of the community wanted to help during the floods, but didn’t know how. They didn’t want to get in the way and many of them had young children so couldn’t go and help clean in the communities. The Support Squad was a way for us to connect with volunteers and communicate need and ways to help that didn’t involve physically visiting affected areas.
We understand how distressing it can be feeling helpless in a crisis like this, so we wanted to extend our community of supporters to be accessible to anyone, regardless of their ability to physically volunteer.
What was the impetus for the appeal?
We knew when we saw footage that many families had lost everything and they would urgently need items such as nappies, wipes, clothing and a safe place for their baby or child to sleep. So our first priority was to raise money so we could purchase these items and provide them to the families straight away.
At Baby Give Back our model is to rehome preloved items that are donated from the community. This takes time, as safety is the first priority with preloved items. Every second hand item – such as car seats, cots, bassinets and prams – that comes through our doors must go through safety checking processes. We knew that the urgency and scale of need would mean that we had to buy new items that could be distributed immediately.
What was the name of the appeal?
The Baby Give Back Flood Crisis Appeal – we wanted it to be clear what we were raising money for.
How did you set the target for the appeal?
We originally set the target at $30,000 but we quickly hit that target and kept extending it. We went live on 1 March and by 4 March we had already hit our goal.
How much did you raise?
$110,000 with people still fundraising and donating money today. We are using the appeal income to purchase stock and fund other operational costs of the flood response, including casual wages and delivery costs.
What was your strategy for the appeal – or, given it was pulled together so quickly, was it more of a ‘roll it out and see what happens’ approach?
We knew that we needed to raise money to be able to provide new, safe items to affected families so we wanted a clear call to action about how people could help and what their donation would be used for. Every day the call to action changed depending on particular items that we were being asked for, but overall the strategy was to ensure we had enough funds to purchase items needed by families in flood areas. We were agile and driven by the needs of the community at the time.
How long did it take for you to pull the appeal together?
The campaign was built within a matter of hours. We knew it didn’t have to be polished, it just had to be clear so people knew how they could help. We built the campaign on Raisely, which is the fundraising platform we use for all campaigns. The team at Raisely reached out to see if they could help develop the page as they could see it was to assist with the floods.
What channels did you use?
This was predominantly a social media campaign. We have an incredible community of supporters who are driven by a clear way to help. We sent one email at the start to our database, but found people responded more through social media as they wanted updates and it was a great way for people to share with their networks.
Social media posts included these Facebook videos of Carly giving updates:
There were also many static posts on our Facebook page in March that talked about the items we needed to get out to families.
Our community has mostly come to us through social media, so we knew the best way to get our message out urgently was to post as much clear and regular communication as possible. Our followers like to hear from Carly with updates so it was the best way to clearly communicate how we were responding to the needs of flood-affected communities, what we needed, and how people could help. Each callout was then followed up with a “Most Needed” list of items which people shared to their networks.
Channel 7 Gold Coast also did an interview with us.
Did you use any fundraising agency support for the appeal?
No, we didn’t have time to engage with an agency but we took what we had learnt from them in previous appeals and ran this in-house.
Did you secure any corporate and/or trust & foundation support?
We received several bulk donations of product from companies including nappies, formula and toiletry items.
We also are grateful to have the support of The Wilson Foundation who gave $50,000 to allow us to establish a hub in Lismore and continue to have a presence in the northern NSW areas throughout the flood recovery.
We also received funding from Dream Big Australia towards the salary of our new Flood Response Coordinator position. Renee from Dream Big saw the work that we were doing and recognised that partnering with us would create greater impact.
How will you report impact back to flood appeal donors?
We use Salesforce and every request for support we receive from a family is created and recorded in our database. This allows us to produce detailed reporting on how many children we have helped, how many items we have provided and the total value of support provided. We have also received lots of testimonials and anecdotal evidence of the transformative effect of the support we are providing. We are communicating our impact to our donors and supporters via email and social media.
Can you tell us about your flood appeal’s impact?
We have provided direct support to 1034 children impacted by the floods (not including bulk supplies to emergency relief spots). This includes:
- 179 car seats
- 320 clothing packs
- 92 safe sleep spaces
- 108 prams
- 715 toiletry packs
- 310 tins of formula
- 29,511 nappies
- 72 Safe Start Boxes
Can you provide a quote from a flood-affected family you assisted?
“The little gifts that we found in our packages, blew our minds. When you lose the essential items and realise that you have nothing, and open the packages from Baby Give Back, we learned how to smile again. There are no words as to how thankful we are.”
Can you provide a quote from a supporter that explains why they supported your fundraising efforts?
“The Wilson Foundation was looking to support local organisations with deeply committed teams delivering immediate relief to the flood affected areas. We were keen for every dollar we donated to go to frontline support. Baby Give Back ticked all the boxes. They were on the ground providing immediate relief with essential items including cots, prams, clothing and other resources to families with babies and young children whose lives had been devastated by the floods. They responded quickly and without hesitation. They worked with local businesses to set up a hub and they listened to the community in a way that resonated strongly with us.”
What were your learnings about emergency appeal fundraising?
That it’s great to have a checklist of the minimum work required to create an emergency appeal fundraiser. It’s easy to get overwhelmed in an emergency so this list helps to be ready.
Can you share your key insights from the appeal?
562 new donors = $80,785, average gift = $143
86 returning donors = $29,198, average gift = $339
648 total donors = $109,983, average gift = $169
3 new regular donors whose collective generosity will contribute $95 per month.
To read more about the 2022 flood response, click here.
To learn about Baby Give Back’s Christmas Appeal, click here.
To read how Baby Give Back CEO, Carly Fradgley, accidentally started a charity in her garage, click here.