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VPS Innovation Case Study - Donations Management System

Author: Kine Nordstokka
Published Date: 17 November 2010

The devastating Victorian bushfires of 2009 were unprecedented not only in the damage inflicted, but also in the community response from both individuals and businesses. Extremely generous donations were presented not only in the monetary form, but also as material aid and high-value goods and services. Management of extremely varied and sought after donations from the latter category required creating of a simple yet effective Donations Management System (DMS).

The DMS was innovative in a number of aspects:

•Design of the system: The DMS was both equitable and empowering. Items were distributed fairly and equitably. Individuals were empowered to manage their own recovery, make their own assessment of their needs and self determine what goods and services they would receive.

•Collaboration with partners: Collaboration with others was essential to both design and delivery of the system. The DMS involved working in an integrated way with partners across and outside of government, in particular Department of Human Services, the Australian Red Cross and donor companies.

•Capability of the Team: Team members came from diverse backgrounds and brought a diverse range of skills. They learned and adapted along the way. They were resourceful and resilient in difficult circumstances.

The DMS, ran by a 16-person team, operated between July 2009 and February 2010 and matched the needs of 3,199 individuals and households. Throughout its run, the System proved the effectiveness of its innovative methods of donations distribution, while the major challenge faced by the team was connected with personal human pressure of working within a highly emotional environment under a lot of pressure.