Social media has revolutionised the way charities address the needs of society’s most vulnerable, with local not-for-profit organisations benefiting from this cost-effective form of community outreach.
Gold Coast based charity, Friends with Dignity has utilised social media to mobilise thousands of everyday Australians to donate what they can to create sanctuaries for domestic violence victims.
While financial donations are always welcomed by Friends with Dignity, it is their Facebook page that facilitates the direct requests for specific goods which allows the charity to most effectively support women, men and children affected by domestic violence.
Whether it be searching for a television to provide entertainment, car seats for infants or funding for household expenses, Friends with Dignity has found that through reaching out via social media with a direct goal, members of the community are most willing to respond.
“Without the power of the community, we could not achieve what we have,” said Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Friends with Dignity, Manuela Whitford.
“We find most of our donors through social media, and some donors have also come on board as active volunteers, which is fantastic.”
The concept for Friends with Dignity first came to Manuela, a clinical nurse, when she witnessed the lengths that women would go to get in to prison, just to find a place of refuge.
The lack of support and assistance provided to these women prompted Manuela to take an interest in the impact of domestic violence, and educate herself about the extent of the problem.
“The ripple effect of this horrific act of control is unbelievable, and I could not just stand around knowing that something as simple as passing on a piece of furniture or clothing could make such a big difference to someone,” said Manuela.
Established in 2015, Friends with Dignity is focused on encouraging the community to “step up” and make a difference however they can, whether it be through financial assistance, item donations for “sanctuaries”, or by attending events such as this weekend’s “Giddy Up for Friends” Race Day.
Taking place at the Gold Coast Turf Club on Saturday, 14th of October, the Caulfield Guineas Race Day event celebrates the Spring Carnival with the aim of raising funds, and further encouraging community involvement in small ways which can drastically improve the lives of those affected by domestic violence.
Through connecting with people and organisations on the internet, Friends with Dignity aims to collaborate with as many different services and organisations as possible to improve and extend their services.
The charity has already expanded, with a dedicated crew of volunteers now operating in Newcastle, and plans to establish similar groups in Adelaide Canberra, Melbourne and Perth.