It hardly needs to be said that 2020 was a complete and utter catastrophe. From the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, to the bushfires at the beginning of the year and Black Lives Matter protests in between (the underlying causes of which still haven’t been addressed), 2020 had us all chipping in to donate to the causes that matter most on platforms like GoFundMe and Facebook.

Now GoFundMe has analysed the top fundraisers in Australia during 2020, after over 1.3 million Aussies opened their wallets to those in need. The results are interesting, but also completely unsurprising.

“The power of collective action saw Australians stand together to drive unparalleled generosity to help loved ones, neighbours and strangers in need,” GoFundMe’s Australian regional manager Nicola Britton said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The trends seen on GoFundMe can often be an early warning sign of emerging societal issues, of a group of citizens falling through the cracks.

“This year saw more Australians turn to crowdfunding for needs that fall outside of traditional government or charitable support from stranded travellers covering quarantine fees to return home, to bushfire-impacted farmers in need of fencing and PPE for frontline medical professionals.”

From the data, it turns out Bundaberg is Australia’s most generous town, having made the most individual donations per capita. It’s followed by Wagga Wagga, Mackay, Mandurah and Launceston.

We also learned that donations to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander causes tripled compared to 2019.

On one hand it’s great news to see people supporting these important issues and perhaps even paying the rent, but on the other hand it’s pretty crap that we even need to be raising money for these causes in 2020 in the first place.

Here are the top five Aussie fundraisers in terms of donations:

5. Save Lentil As Anything – $373,985

Vegan institution Lentil As Anything made headlines when it announced it was on the verge of closing for good.

That’s when Aussies stepped up to save the restaurants, which are famous for having a ‘pay what you feel’ policy.

The fundraiser worked, and now the restaurants are open for business once more.

4. Australian Bushfire Appeal – $382,055

We all knew the bushfires were gonna dominate this ranking.

This particular fundraiser went to the Australian Red Cross which, unlike Celeste Barber‘s mammoth Facebook fundraiser, was able to use the money to support people who’ve lost their homes as well as fund the longer-term recovery.

Donations flooded in not just from around Australia, but from around the world, showing just how much the situation had pulled on people’s heartstrings.

3. Aussie Influencers For Australia – $580,132

In third place is yet another bushfire fundraiser, but this one was run by a group of influencers who used their massive reach to gather as much donations as possible.

The huge sum – more than half a mill – was distributed across six charities: the Australian Red Cross, the Victorian CFS, the South Australian CFS, South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management, the Balu Blue Foundation and Wildlife Victoria.

Their thinking was to split the money between three humanitarian organisations and three wildlife rescue organisations.

2. Fire Relief Fund First Nations Communities – $1,883,380

First Nations communities were among the most vulnerable before the fires came, and were among the hardest hit in their wake.

Yorta Yorta man Neil Morris decided to take matters into his own hands, and raised almost $2 million to distribute in direct consultation with fire-ravaged Aboriginal communities in regions like Gippsland and the NSW South Coast.

Ultimately, the money went to temporary relocation, providing essential goods, refurbishing fire-damaged property and additional expenses in the aftermath of the fires. You can read the most recent progress report here.

1. Help Save Kangaroo Islands Koalas And wildlife – $2,693,820

Photos of the devastation on Kangaroo Island in South Australia made international headlines.

It’s no wonder Aussies and people around the world felt compelled to chip in to help rescue and rehabilitate animals on the island who were caught in the path of the fires

With over 30 thousand individual donors, this GoFundMe fundraiser is massive and is still receiving contributions almost a year on.

Let’s hope we won’t have to do the same thing this summer.

Image: Getty Images / Brett Hemmings