Innovation That Matters

Donated site matches fire victims with extra beds

Nonprofit & Social Cause

Aiming to help the thousands of Australian families left homeless by the recent devastating fires in Victoria and New South Wales, Bushfire Housing is a site that was created specifically to match people in need with others in the area who can offer emergency accommodation. Bushfire Housing was created within a day or so of the Australian tragedy by Melbourne internet marketing group Sputnik Agency, which was inspired by a similar site used during the Hurricane Katrina disaster. How it works: Area residents with space to share register and list their offerings on Bushfire Housing, which then allows fire victims to browse for potential places to stay. When a victim expresses interest in a place, an email is automatically sent to its owner, allowing both parties to make arrangements directly from that point on. Bushfire Housing does, however, provide a non-binding occupancy agreement to make negotiations easier. In creating Bushfire Housing, Sputnik relied on no outside advertising or sponsorship, and it used a purely viral strategy to promote its efforts. SMS messages, badges and prewritten emails are all among the tools available on the site to help visitors spread the word. Some 600 housing offers are currently listed on the site, with a total capacity to accommodate more than 2000 people. Bushfire Housing is similar in many ways to some of the bed-sharing services we’ve written about, albeit with very different motivations. Not only is it good proof of what can be accomplished virtually overnight with the help of the social Web, it’s also a shining example of the corporate generosity now being expected by what our sister site calls Generation G. See’s briefing for more on why giving is the new taking—and try it out yourself sometime! (Related: Soccer fans to share beds at Euro 2008Networking & bedsharing.)



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