Rapid Relief Team say all of the public donations for the WA trip went to farmers

Rapid Relief Team in Condobolin earlier this month, delivering bales of hay to drought stricken farmers. Photo: Rachael Webb.
Rapid Relief Team in Condobolin earlier this month, delivering bales of hay to drought stricken farmers. Photo: Rachael Webb.

A charity has reported that 100 per cent of public donations has gone towards helping drought stricken farmers in the central west, despite recent speculation that previous donations for other causes went to wages and other business costs.

There has been allegations against Western Australian rural charity Rapid Relief Team, which recently delivered 2000 bales of hay to central west farmers.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that “financial statements uploaded to the charity watchdog's website show that a large portion of previous donations for other causes went on wages, marketing materials, administration and event co-ordination.”

It also went on to say that having taken in $715,000 in donations and earned an extra $54,000 in revenue in 2016/2017, RRT spent $342,000 on “employee expenses”.

“The RRT raised more than $600,000 for our farmers and donated every single dollar of that towards purchasing hay and hauling it across the Nullarbor, and distributing food coupons through IGA, Foodworks and other NSW businesses,” a RRT spokesperson said.

“We are Christians who are trying to help, that’s what the RRT is about, and we would, and are, doing it again. The drought-stricken farmers in NSW needed a hand, so we gave it.”

The majority of contributions made by the charity are through in-kind donations of time by the volunteers, they said.

“Our service of 3500 volunteers is supported and coordinated by a full time support team of four people who help with administration, event management and warehousing,” the RRT spokesperson said.

“While the financial component is much smaller than the donated time and effort, obviously we ensure it is reported, audited, properly accounted for, and spent in line with requirements of the Australian Charity and Not-for-profit Commission (ACNC).

“As with any charity, RRT staffing costs come from the income source, being charity donations, of which the majority come from the community of the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church.”

The spokesperson said RRT operates in line with ACNC requirements, and are seeking ways to improve business efficiencies and lower overhead costs.

“Like any substantial organisation, RRT builds up cash reserves to ensure the long-term viability of the organisation, and so that we can invest in major programs like the hay run at short notice,” the spokesperson said.

“And like any substantial organisation, looking at a single year’s operating outputs does not paint an accurate financial picture, or take into considerations of external factors such as donation timings.

“What we can do is confirm that RRT always seeks to provide the most amount of value for beneficiaries, hence drawing on the resources of its 3500 volunteers to allow for a high level of activity output versus incoming donations.”

Rural Aid, Drought Angels and Aussie Helpers were asked to comment but did not respond before deadline.