A virtual shopping fundraiser brought thousands of donated dollars to East Gippsland businesses impacted by the summer bushfires. Now its innovative founder is expanding her ‘It’s My Shout’ initiative to support businesses across Australia hit by coronavirus (COVID-19).
Lakes Entrance businesswoman Tenille Bull launched ‘It’s My Shout’ in January. She realised, if her accommodation business was suffering after the fires, then so was every café and fish and chip shop. The idea was to allow donors to buy ‘virtual’ products from businesses in fire-affected areas by booking a room, buying a coffee or purchasing something from a gift shop.
She explains: “I was driving along one day, trying to work out how I was going to pay my mortgages. I have three Airbnbs in Lakes Entrance and everyone cancelled for January and we faced the equivalent of $40,000 in lost income.”
Her aim was just to try to support her community to keep businesses afloat through virtual means so as not to put any additional pressure on anyone providing services at such a devastating time. The ‘It’s My Shout’ website went live on 7 January attracting donor-customers from 34 countries.
“We had this amazing community of people supporting us. Someone said: ‘I’m going to do a virtual pub crawl for my son’s 21st’; others just bought coffee,” says Tenille.
She adds that apart from the money, ‘It’s My Shout’ gave hope to fire-affected towns. “It had an incredible roll-on, ripple effect — businesses started to pay it forward. One café raised $7000 and wrote that as a voucher and gave it to the Country Fire Authority to give to people who’d been burnt out.”
Now, Tenille hopes ‘It’s My Shout’ can be applied to businesses across Australia that have been financially affected by coronavirus.
“The next phase is called ‘Shop Our Stores’ and it is Australia-wide for any business. It can be selling physical products people can receive in the mail or ‘Eat, Stay, Play’ getaways so people can create their own holiday package. You pay for it now and use it when it is safe to travel,” she explains.
Learn more about Shop Our Stores
Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal
Pictured above: Tenille Bull, Founder of the virtual shopping fundraiser ‘It’s My Shout!’, which is bringing hope and much-needed funds to bushfire-affected communities