Business Victoria | 6 February 2020
You don’t have to try very hard to imagine the impact a bushfire near you would have on your business.
For some, there’s the direct loss of property or inability to access it – bringing business to a halt. For others, there are cancelled bookings and jobs, unavailable staff, hazardous air quality, lack of tourists, power outages and on top of all that, the mental impact of living and operating in the middle of a crisis.
And this is happening during what should be the busiest time of the year.
But from the ashes of disaster, amazing initiatives to support regional communities are popping up everywhere you look. We’ve compiled a list of the best initiatives businesses can take part in to support small business. We call on every small business owner to support your regional countrymen by getting involved in one or more of them.
This website and Facebook page is a virtual marketplace that lets you book virtual holidays, buy virtual products or pay things forward.
For example, if you want to give back by staying in a fire-affected region but don’t have the holiday time, you can purchase virtual accommodation. Alternatively, you can buy a coffee at a café in a fire-affected region and the staff will give it, or pay it forward, to a local customer. Another option lets you buy a virtual beer for volunteers! Better yet, the ability to filter by region helps you narrow down your support to Victorian businesses.
If you are a small business affected by the crisis, you can create a profile and start listing your virtual goods here.
There are many interesting or funny items listed, and by browsing, you get to know the businesses better before donating. And although you don’t physically get anything from making a purchase, it’s a really cool and personal way to donate to small business owners who are missing out on the cash flow that keeps them afloat for the year.
Let’s bring business to fire-affected regions through business tourism!
The Victorian Government is asking business, sport and government agencies to hold their meetings, events and other business activity in East Gippsland and North East Victoria. By driving business tourism to the regions, we may be able to replace some of the earnings that were lost in the summer tourist season, improving cashflow and making businesses viable again.
Over 100 businesses have already made the pledge including Alibaba, Bosch, and Nissan. Join them here.
#shop2support #vicspendwithus #buyfromthebush #spendwiththem
These are the social media campaigns turned into charitable channels doing the digital rounds. They’re driving customers to spend with small businesses in regional areas affected by bushfires through the power of online communities.
Shop 2 Support Bushfire Communities is a Facebook group with over 36k members. Small businesses post their websites, tourist accommodation and products and then other members can show their support by buying from them. There’s a neat business directory function in the photos section so you can find what you’re after quickly by state and product type.Your business can join this community to find struggling businesses to use as a supplier, buy accommodation for corporate travel or order client gifts. For example, you may find a chook farm that you can buy eggs from for your restaurant, or use a company that makes personalised swag you can partner with to make corporate mugs or pens. Shop 2 Support is an easy way to bring life back to business communities impacted by the disaster.
This website was created by a web developer whose property was spared when fires recently came through her town. Looking around, she wondered how business owners would be able to pay their rent or staff due to the complete lack of tourism trade. She launched Spend with us to provide small business owners in bushfire areas with an online listing and marketplace to engage with customers and spruik their businesses. An associated social media page, Vic spend with us, is another way to discover Victorian businesses seeking support.
Buy from the bush is a campaign to support drought-affected businesses and became part of the national conversation last October. The Instagram channel quickly grew to reach over 215k followers and boasts a website now as well. Businesses in “the bush” facing months of drought and now bushfires, get to list their items on the platform in a way that has attracted the attention of urban dwellers around Australia.According to the website, the campaign has meant that “Stock is selling out. Many creators and makers are developing new relationships with wholesalers and stockists. Rural Australia Post franchises are selling out of parcels due to the increased postage demand. Small businesses are paying casuals to support the increase in sales.” And Stay in the bush, an offshoot of the campaign provides yet another way to support fire affect regions through booking regional accommodation.
Spend with them is Turia Pitt’s version of the same concept, but focuses specifically on rebuilding towns and businesses affected by fires. She has used her influence to attract almost 200k followers. If you are a business affected by bushfires, you can be featured by emailing the page.
No matter how you as an individual or you as a business purchase from regional communities, it has never been more important to do so, and these social campaigns are a great place to start.
This one doesn’t help small businesses directly but it’s still an amazing initiative.
Gippsland Art Gallery is taking artwork donations from artists around Australia for a fundraising event, Art Gippsland Aid. So why not nab new art for your office or shop while supporting fire-affected regions?
Art will be on display in the gallery and online from 15 February, then auctioned off on 15 March. All money raised will be donated to the Gippsland Emergency Relief Fund (GERF) to support those that lost property in the fire.
And if you’re an artist looking to donate, maybe email to check in – they are already at capacity!
If you feel inspired by all the charitable activity going on, why not consider running a fundraiser through your business?
Many businesses are sending a percentage of sales for some or all of their products and services to bushfire charities. Many more are running fundraising events. If you are considering running a fundraiser, check that you are exempt from registering with Consumer Affairs Victoria. And take note that some charities like the CFA, have guidelines for external fundraising activities.
There’s no end to the creative ways that your business can give back to fire affected communities. Small businesses are offering their services, like website building and social media marketing, for free to charities involved in bushfire recovery. And this big business is offering their employees an extra day of annual leave to visit bushfire affected towns.
Has your business done something interesting to support bushfire affected businesses that we haven’t included?
Write to our Facebook page and we will consider adding it here.