Many feet make light work: community walkathon makes strides towards water equality

Charitable giving is heavily entwined in Australian and New Zealand culture, with up to 80% of Australians and New Zealanders donating to heartfelt causes annually. Throughout COVID-19, the charitable sector has seen a considerable downturn in the number of donations pouring in. In response, charities such as WaterAid Australia has had to adapt the way it seeks donations in order to continue its philanthropic activities.

A charitable challenge

hroughout COVID-19, charities are being relied on more than ever to assist vulnerable communities around the world. However, the pandemic has abruptly shifted our social and cultural landscape, rendering these organisations vulnerable during a time when they are needed most: from donation tins at coffee shops, to gala dinners, the traditional methods of fundraising have been challenged by stringent social distancing requirements.

In response, charities are adapting the ways they generate donations. One such example of this is WaterAid Australia. The organisation’s mission is to provide disadvantaged communities globally with clean water, decent sanitation and good hygiene. A vital source of its annual revenue stems from WaterAid Balls, charitable galas held in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria annually.

Historically, key players within the industry have united at these events each year, raising tens of thousands of dollars to support WaterAid’s work throughout the Asia-Pacific. With social distancing restrictions in full effect, all galas were cancelled. To maintain its life-changing work of providing essential water and sanitation to communities in need, WaterAid worked with its partners to develop an alternative solution to generate donations.

A creative solution

Every year, WaterAid invites Australians and New Zealanders to walk in solidarity with the thousands of individuals in developing communities, who walk incredibly long distances each day to collect fresh water.

With all Australian States subject to various stages of lockdown, the walkathon, aptly named “Walk for Water,” was the perfect fit given the allowances for outdoor exercise. The initiative was embraced by thousands, giving people a purpose to emerge from isolation, lace up their sneakers and walk for global water equality.

Picking up the pace literally and taking this challenge in its stride was leading water infrastructure company, Interflow.

A proud supporter of WaterAid’s work for over 15 years, Interflow’s Managing Director, Geoff Weaver, shared how close this initiative was to the Company’s heart.

“Clean water and sanitation are essential utilities that can greatly enhance the prosperity and quality of life of disadvantaged communities globally,” he said.

“Participating in a virtual walkathon was the perfect opportunity for our people, partners and suppliers from across Australia and New Zealand to get involved in the WaterAid journey and have a tangible, positive impact on communities in need.”

Walking for Water equality

Determined to make a difference, Interflow’s people strapped on their walking shoes and stepped up to the challenge. Setting an ambitious goal to walk 6 million steps and raise $40,000 throughout the week, the initiative received tremendous support from the Company’s extended network.

“Although our people are spread across two nations, we harnessed the power of technology to stay connected and keep each other motivated throughout the week-long event,” Geoff recalled.

Whether they were getting their steps up on-site throughout the day, rising with the sun to get their steps in before work, or walking through the cool spring nights, Interflow’s people embraced their new active lifestyle. The support received from their friends and family along the way was truly astounding.

Their efforts, along with the additional support of Interflow’s suppliers, helped the organisation to walk a staggering 12 million steps throughout the week and raise over $46,000 for WaterAid Australia.

“The overwhelming support we received was a humbling reminder that despite the personal hardships of COVID-19, the power of unity is undoubtable, both within the Interflow family and the broader Australian and New Zealand communities.”

The future of charitable giving

While the pandemic has brought with it an era of uncertainty for many Australian and New Zealand households and charities, the future is looking bright. Digital events, walkathons and online fundraising all provide an exciting opportunity for communities and organisations to transcend borders and extend the reach of their charitable efforts.

As we ease out of restrictions and embrace this new era of social distancing, households can return to supporting the charities that they hold dear, which help to elevate them in the  broader community.

“With community support, WaterAid, like many charities, has continued its work tirelessly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic,” Geoff said.

“I’m honoured that Interflow’s people, partners and suppliers were able to play a part in supporting WaterAid through this time, helping to drive global change.”

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