FRRR Bushfire Response – FAQs

Updated March 2020

A: FRRR has a long history of supporting disaster-affected communities to recover and build their resilience to future disasters, having provided more than $19M to locally-led recovery and preparedness initiatives since 2006.  

From our experience, FRRR knows that recovery takes time, and affected communities will need support for many years to come. The impacts of the fires will not be the same in any two communities, so it’s critical that when the time is right, local leaders can access funds for whatever is most important to their community.

We also keep administration fees low (maximum 10%) to ensure that your generosity can have a maximum impact for communities.

A: Funds from the FRRR Fire Fight Fund will be distributed through FRRR’s well-known and flexible Strengthening Rural Communities program to support medium to long-term recovery, through a special ‘bushfire affected communities’ stream. We expect the first round of this stream to open in September 2020. Nevertheless, we are already working with affected communities on how best to support their priorities.

FRRR will also provide additional Back to School vouchers to support impacted children and families, so they can have the uniform and stationery supplies needed to ensure they are equipped and ready to learn. There will be a round distributed by May 2020 for bushfire affected communities, and we’ll continue to monitor what additional support might be required in future years.

But the work FRRR does is so much more than just the grants, so your donation will also enable us to provide this support. We take a maximum fee of 10 cents in the dollar, which enables our team to spend thousands of hours on the phone each year, working with community leaders to shape their projects. Our small team also spends time on the road, meeting with local leaders, visiting communities and running workshops to build local community capacity. These fees also ensure that we can undertake the due diligence necessary to ensure that the money gets where it is going to have the biggest impact.

All donations to FRRR of $2 and over are tax deductible in Australia.

A: The grants will support community-identified and community-led initiatives.

Funds from the FRRR Fire Fight Fund will go out primarily via a special stream of the Strengthening Rural Communities program, which will commence in September 2020 at the earliest. However, FRRR will monitor needs over the coming months and provide support on a case by case basis. There will be two tiers of grants available, providing Small & Vital grants up to $10,000, and Larger Leverage grants up to $25,000.

Once applications are received, they will be assessed, considered by an advisory committee and FRRR’s Board, and the outcome notified as soon as possible.

Working through local community organisations, $50 Back to School gift vouchers from Target or local retailers, will be provided to students in need in bushfire communities. As the current relief efforts are still very much underway, we will offer this additional support mid-year, working with local partners for distribution by May 2020. We will then monitor the situation to see what additional support is required in coming years.

A: FRRR gives preference for funding to local not-for-profit community organisations in bushfire-affected locations, who work closely with their local community. However, we can also support groups that are based outside the directly-affected areas but are delivering services into affected areas, if that support is requested by or strongly endorsed by local community leaders. Organisations do need either an ABN or incorporation certificate, but they don’t have to be a registered charity. However, all applicants will be required to demonstrate how grant funding will be of broad community benefit and for charitable purposes.

For Back to School vouchers, FRRR will work with local community organisations that know who is most in need, and can deliver support in a way that ensures families can access the vouchers easily, and discreetly.

More details will be provided when the grant programs open.

A: FRRR has been supporting communities in disaster-affected areas since 2006, including doing a wide range of (still ongoing) work with 2009 Victorian bushfire-affected communities. The key thing we’ve learnt from our experiences working with communities impacted by disaster is that recovery takes time. The initial focus is on individuals getting back on their feet, and there are fantastic agencies like the Red Cross, Vinnies, Salvation Army and others on the ground supporting them.

But there will come a time when attention turns to community assets and community needs, and typically, those needs emerge 12-18 months after a disaster. So that’s where we deliberately focus our efforts – on medium to long-term recovery. That’s not to say that we won’t support a community in the next few weeks or months if they need support – they can already apply for funding through our existing programs. For example, in the Tumut region, we already have a grant program open, on the ground, to support recovery, so we’ll adapt and respond as we need to. But experience counts, and we know recovery is a marathon, not a sprint, and that needs will evolve over time. So, it’s important that funds are there for local organisations when they need that support, even if that is years down the track.

A: FRRR has a very thorough due-diligence process to ensure that funds make the greatest impact possible. Applications are assessed by FRRR’s small and dedicated staff team, who make recommendations to an advisory committee, which is chaired by an FRRR director, with other committee members having a range of relevant experience. All grants are then reviewed and approved by the FRRR Board.

A: FRRR’s charitable status means that it does not provides grants to individuals directly – all of FRRR’s grants have to be for broader community benefit. (Even with our Back to School program, we provide our support to local community organisations to help them alleviate poverty or create opportunity, who then work with the individuals). There are many other organisations that provide assistance to individuals, including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, Vinnies and GIVIT.

A: FRRR’s charitable purposes do not allow funds to directly support animal welfare. However, FRRR can provide support for activities that support the preservation and protection of native flora and fauna.

If animal welfare is important to you, you may wish to consider supporting RSPCA.

A: FRRR has designed the Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) grant program to be deliberately flexible, so that it can fund the various needs identified in communities, because every community is different.

So, it will depend on what communities need, but in our experience, initial needs are likely to focus on either ensuring communities are safe should something like this happen again – things like enhancing the local emergency shelter, implementing a UHF radio system so that people can stay in touch during the next emergency, efforts to relieve volunteer fatigue or running a campaign to attract people back to the area. It will be run as a stream of FRRR’s regular SRC grant program, which is well-known, but be specifically for bushfire-affected communities. As the SRC program is always open, once the special stream launches, applications will be assessed quarterly.

A: Below are some examples, but there are many more on FRRR’s Grants in Action page.

A: Our aim is always to ensure that communities can easily identify the programs they are eligible for and get the support in the simplest way possible.

FRRR’s Strengthening Rural Communities (SRC) program is relatively well-known in rural and regional Australia, and FRRR already has the infrastructure and systems set up to take applications, evaluate and track them, so it will mean that we can more efficiently get funds on the ground, where they can make an impact.

A: Traditionally, for donations to FRRR’s core granting programs, we take a maximum administration fee of 10%. This enables FRRR to provide a wide range of support over the phone and by email to applicants, conduct grantseeker workshops, undertake due diligence on applications and analyse acquittal documentation. Some programs are fee-free (such as FRRR’s Back to School program, as we cover the administration costs as part of our contribution). Please note, this applies to donations made directly to FRRR or once they reach FRRR – some platforms charge additional fees before they pass funds on to us. 

A: FRRR is utilising the Shout for Good platform to receive donations and generate automatic receipts for the FRRR Fire Fight Fund. If you use Visa or Mastercard you can donate without incurring fees, if you are based in Australia. There may be some currency conversion or other charges passed on to FRRR if you are outside Australia. AMEX and PayPal still incur some fees, no matter where you are based. See Shout for Good’s rate sheet on their FAQ page here – https://shoutforgood.com/faqs.

A: Yes, you can donate securely via Shout for Good, no matter where you are. You will need to obtain your own advice regarding whether a donation to FRRR will be tax deductible under your jurisdiction’s tax regime.

A: To learn more about FRRR, visit www.frrr.org.au, or call the team on 03 5430 2399. You can also email specific questions to info@frrr.org.au.