NEWS FLASH! Leela Draws Fire!
‘Cause, you know – that’s incredibly unusual.
From whatever corner of the Earth you’re reading this blog right now, you’ve no doubt heard about what’s going on in my hometown of Brisbane. 75% of Queensland has been declared a disaster zone (for our overseas friends, QLD is approx. the same size as Texas, or 13x the size of England). 9 people confirmed dead with many more missing. Many have lost everything.
This has been going on for some time – it started between Christmas and New Years when Emerald went under and has been getting progressively worse as it moves down the coast.
We’ve been very lucky here on the Gold Coast (Surfers Paradise) – while either side of us has been flooding, we’ve remained predominantly dry. The Tweed, slated to flood, has been downgraded from flood alert to flood watch and the weather outlook says we’re in for some sunny days. Finally.
So, when I sent out my post on Tuesday, yes – I was aware of all of this.
My family all live in Brisbane (thankfully, no ones lost their house). I grew up and went to school in Brisbane and many of the people I knew growing up have been affected. So much so, that we have opened our home to refugees and have a few Brissy escapees staying with us. Because what else are you going to do when your mates are in trouble?
However, upon receipt of my email, my inbox was flooded with admonishments for being “glib” while there was a tragedy going on. Many of these emails assumed I was living elsewhere, was heartless and simply didn’t give a damn.
On Facebook there’s currently a thread condemning businesses offering percentages of their takings to flood charities – apparently this is a “transparent attempt to use a crisis to inflate sales”.
My (pissed off) response:
People giving percentages of their sales as donations is horrible??
Let me tell you what it’s like to be a business owner right now …
I have to survive … I have to make money. People to pay – including people in QLD who need the money.
However – if I try and sell anything I get yelled at about having no respect …
I need to launch a new event I’m running next week. I know some people are going to attack me for that (I’ve already received numerous attacks for sending out material that had nothing to do with the floods) – so I was considering doing a % donation.
NOT because I’m trying to profiteer …
But because it feels wrong right now to NOT acknowledge what’s going on.
So tell me then – since you’re all so high up there on your horses – what IS the appropriate way to respond? Do I ignore the situation and be labeled heartless? OR do I acknowledge the situation and be labeled as someone who lacks compassion?
Or hey – maybe I can just sell nothing, go broke and forfeit on my creditors … surely THAT will solve everything!“
The ever reasonable Mr Paul Lange’s nicer approach (only a portion … read the thread on FB):
“… once the emotions of this event subside, and the rebuild begins, it should be blatantly obvious that the rebuild over the next year or two will stimulate the QLD economy and the Australian economy as a whole. Indeed with QLD representing 20% of the Australian economy even a blind man can see that ensuring QLD is reinstated to full operational capacity is in the national interests.
Whilst this is a tragic event at all levels, the future now brings an opportunity to help Australia grow, and by extension to avoid the recession it should have had. It presents a massive opportunity for small, medium, and major enterprise to grow. It is not governments that will ultimately help the man and woman on the street survive this. It will be businesses. The government (if they do their jobs right) is good for immediate relief, coordination of SES activities, and providing civil defence services. However if you are waiting for the (local, state, or federal) government to be the knight in shining armour that rescues QLD then go and play in some deluded corner. It will be communities, and ultimately communities that are supported by business that will restore QLD.
I’ll reiterate at this point that I didn’t see the original post/pitch et al, and I acknowledge that there will be some people who have the wrong intentions with such advertising. But not all, and certainly not the majority.
I have long been a believer that traditional charity is ineffective and flawed. My personal preference is for a transactional based charity within a sustainable system that feeds and is fed, that pays forward and pays back. A good starting point is direct-relational transaction based charity.
For example, if you buy a coffee at your favourite cafe, then the cafe owner may elect to donate a small percentage of that sale to provide clean drinking water to a child for a day (cost US$0.01) , or if you buy a pair of glasses, sunglasses, a television or some similar ‘vision’ related product the vendor may elect to give the gift of sight to a child or adult. In a third world countries many people who are visually impaired can be helped in this way for only a few dollars. This happens every day within CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs. The same can be used to help the QLD flood victims.
One company that champions this method and helps to facilitate charitable donation is B1G1 (Buy 1 Give 1 – http://www.b1g1.com/). Oh, BTW, B1G1 passes 100% of the money to the designated charity of which they literally 1000’s on the site. B1G1 was established by a couple of great Australians, including Masami Sato (co-founder), and Chairman (and co-founder) Paul Dunn. One of my businesses helps reserve rainforest for future generations in the Daintree, facilitated through B1G1.
When business grows, they employ people, and people earn an income. When people earn an income they put food on the table and clothes on children and roofs over heads that they purchase from other business which in turn stimulates the economy. It is a commercial food chain.
But being down on business across the board for adopting a transactional based approach as to how they can donate is wrong. If the company has $X in the bank to give then that is the limit of their ability. If a company provides you with a valuable product or service that costs you no more, a product or service that you want and/or need, that may even cost you less because of the promotion, and in the process will help that company donate vastly more than $X then that in my books is far superior than straight donations. It is a sustainable process that allows more money to flow to where it is needed.“
My motto / slogan for 2011 is
Entrepreneurs, not Governments,
Change the World.
And the truth of this will be proven over the coming year as business owners take the lead in fixing Queensland.
So, a couple of ways in which I’m helping and in which you can help me help!
- Jennie Armato and Pete Godfrey have organised a webinar for Friday 21st January – the cost is a minimum of $20 (maximum is your call – if you could donate a days pay, that would rock!) – and all proceeds are going directly to the Red Cross.
Speakers include: Jennie and Pete, Myself, Aussie Rob, Cathie Denehy, Pat Mesiti and Rachel Bermingham – the theme is “Overcoming Adversity” – we’ll all be telling our stories of how we faced up to the challenges in our lives and came through on the other side!
There’ll also be a couple of special guests – real entrepreneurs who lost everything – telling you what they’re doing now to keep their businesses kicking.You can sign up here: http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=138372796223994
- A lot of people have been asking about donating goods- this is really impractical for charities for a number of reasons … having to pick up or organise drop off points, staff either of these, then sort through goods to get rid of what can’t be used, then categorise and sorting goods (just think about sorting millions of pieces of clothing into sizes!), then distributing – it would cost more than the goods were worth when new to do all this.
Further, by distributing money to these people, they’ll go and spend that money buying goods with local businesses, thus stimulating the local economy again.So my suggestion, if you’ve got goods to donate, is to take them to Ebay and sell them there, then donate the cash to charities.
I’ve contacted Ebay and asked if they would consider doing a special category and waiving or discounting listing fees when all profits are being donated – yet to hear back, but if you have contacts there, please pass the idea on!
- The other thing – we WILL be launching our Agents of Awesomeness event, early next week. Despite the extra fire I know I’ll draw, I’m going to donate a percentage of event takings to fund a free event in Brisbane to help local entrepreneurs get back on their feet.
Look – here’s the thing.
We’ve all been emotional about the images we’ve seen online and on the TV.
We’re all heartbroken about the whole thing.
But you’re not going to help anyone by getting depressed and overwhelmed.
Find the small ways in which you can help – whatever you’re able to do – and focus on those.
Because by standing together from a place of love and strength – rather than of depression – we can help rebuild Queensland, stronger and better than ever before.