Emil Ford Lawyers

What to think about before setting up a Disaster Relief Fund

In January and February 2019, Townsville suffered some of the worst flooding in its history. Many farmers lost valuable livestock and vital infrastructure was wiped out. More than 3,300 properties suffered damage and the damage bill is likely to exceed half a billion dollars. At the time, the Queensland Government announced that the Townsville area had been declared a ‘disaster zone’. This phrase, which is sometimes loosely thrown around, has a very specific purpose.

When a government declares a disaster, funds that provide relief to people in the communities affected by that disaster are eligible for deductible gift recipient (DGR) status. These are known as Disaster Relief Funds. Donations made to a Disaster Relief Fund are usually tax deductible for a 2 year period starting on the date of the declaration of the disaster.

To be declared a disaster, the disaster must have resulted in:

  • the death, serious injury or other physical suffering of a large number of people; or
  • widespread damage to property or the natural environment.

Importantly, only one of the above criteria needs to be met, even though most disasters possess both characteristics.

If you are interested in establishing a Disaster Relief Fund please bear in mind that it may be more effective for you to partner with an existing DGR. This would remove the need to incur start-up or registration costs. Pre-existing DGRs also offer the benefit of being familiar with the area affected by the disaster and the most pressing needs. However, it may be difficult to find an existing DGR which has purposes aligned with your own.

If you would like to establish a Disaster Relief Fund or have any queries about how they operate, please contact


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