Name: Beverley Burrows-Pym
Role: Fundraising Assistant
Location: Collinsville, QLD, Australia
Originally from the UK, Beverley and her family have been on the move for the past fifteen years, arriving in Australia in early 2018 after a decade in Luxembourg and 3 years in Spain, following available placements for Bev as a highly skilled special needs teacher.
Her new home is in a very small mining town in northern Queensland, an hour from the coast but almost 300km from Townsville, the nearest city. This was a massive change in lifestyle.
“We knew we were coming to somewhere remote, but this is a little more remote than we would have liked. The community is great, but services are a nightmare. We have doctors and a pharmacy but anything else is a journey. Mental health support for the students is a minimum of an hour away, usually two, or by Telehealth. I have learnt to do far more by the internet than I ever really wanted to, but it is the only way to buy things without waiting for someone to be going to Townsville,” Bev describes.
Joining Random Acts
Bev’s relationship with Random Acts was directly influenced by the big move. Arriving in February, their household furniture and goods did not arrive until June. In the meantime, they relied on a borrowed sofa, airbeds, a fridge, and a TV. Bev’s daughter had a DVD player, and they occupied themselves in their new empty home by watching Supernatural from the beginning. Beverley discovered Random Acts via the show and applied when she saw an appropriate position. “I remember Amanda asking me if I did GISH. I looked around and the lack of things that we had and said ‘maybe next year.’ Once I realized how poor the access to mental health services were here, I used the Random Acts sponsorship to train for IMAlive as well.”
Bev began her journey volunteering at Random Acts by working on reviewing policies and updating documents during a period of massive growth in the organization. She then moved into the fundraising department, where she helps supporters and staff members who want to create official fundraisers naming Random Acts as the beneficiary.
The fundraising can range from someone getting sponsored to run a marathon, to a bake sale organizer at a school or office, to a small business who plans to donate a certain percentage of profit on a special product. We appreciate that our supporters want to raise money on our behalf, and so Bev and her department make sure that anyone who wants to use Random Acts’ name and logo to promote their sale or fundraiser has everything in order (morally, ethically, legally, and so on) so that we can accept their donation. There is actually a big difference between someone taking money they have earned and making a private donation, and using the Random Acts name in advance of donating as a “selling point” to encourage contributions.
“People often submit a fundraising request saying ‘I want to give Random Acts 10% of the sales from my necklace’ for example, but we need to know how many they are selling, what they are made of, where they are sourced from, and so on before allowing logo use on behalf of Random Acts. Sometimes things crop up on Twitter for sale advertising a donation to us that we know nothing about, so it is about contacting those people and getting their information. Marathons are popular so are quiz nights. We have rejected a few because they want to do things with copyrighted images – it is common for people to want to paint Castiel or use him on cake, but we cannot allow that without permission (from Warner Bros). We do try to help people to gain permission where possible or to find an alternative that would not break copyright.”
“We need to be accountable for what we accept and ethical in what we support. We do not want people increasing their sales of a dodgy product by adding our logo to it and giving us a small donation. We vet companies as much as we can, and check out their online profile. It is more complicated than saying, ‘here, have some money from my sales.’ We want our logo and name to mean something.”
This might sound strict, but Bev wants supporters to know that applying to fundraise for us is usually really easy, especially for individuals just wanting to do good deeds in our name. The Volunteer Fundraiser Agreement form on our website is very clear and for something as simple as a bake sale, it can be approved in a couple of days. The Fundraising team obviously wants to make it as smooth as possible for supporters, and Bev is on hand with suggestions to adapt an idea with you if there is something that might not be approved for whatever reason.
An Ambassador of Kind Acts
Aside from her official administrative role, Bev has also undertaken a great number of acts of kindness in her local area as a Random Acts staffer. She is a great ambassador for Random Acts, and the remoteness of her small town has actually helped this factor enormously. As she explains, the community is small enough that people know who is in need. Mostly in her little town but also in Bowen, 87km away but about 5 times as big (still a small town but with a few more resources). Random Acts has become quite famous in this corner of northern Queensland!
“I took an assembly at school explaining what Random Acts does, and I have run stalls at the local events, so the community is aware of Random Acts. It means that they can sometimes ‘suggest’ a family who may need help. We made the local paper, too, which makes people think of me as a local. It has helped to start conversations with people who wouldn’t ask for help. My ‘proper’ job means that I have contact with lots of locals, as a fundraiser and a fund-giver. The fact that they have also seen money being spent in the community makes them less suspicious about giving to a charity that is not Australian.”
Actions Speak Loud
Bev has done all sorts of acts, including replacing kitchen goods for a family affected by the cyclone, bought uniforms for a family struggling with sending multiple kids to school, created snack packs for the kids who rely on food from school to feed them over the Christmas break, and bought food and supplies for a local pet rescue. She also helped the students of a school affected by floods – northern Queensland sees a lot of extreme weather – get the supplies needed to resume studies on campus again.
“Because of the job that I do, a lot of my actions have been centred around children and finding ways to help them and get them started. Random Acts bought provisions for one young person going to uni, and work-boots for a girl who needed them to start a trade apprenticeship. Being rural is difficult for the local kids. They do not have the same resources or life experiences as city kids. It can also be hard to know who to contact for support.”
Bev’s Influence Continues to Grow
Australian supporters may have met Bev at All Hell Breaks Loose 2019, where she ran the Random Acts stand in Melbourne while collecting goods to donate to a food bank. Moving forward, Beverley would also like to find more opportunities to do more acts for transient or displaced people in Queensland. “I made a blanket for a shelter in 2019 and made 100 meals for a shelter last year, but they are really too far away for me to do much more. I had to deliver them to Ayr, 2 hours away. The blanket was sent to Brisbane (1100km away). It was the same with COVID-19 masks. A small group of friends made 320 but had to post them out in batches to other hospitals.”
But Random Acts has really influenced Beverley’s new life in remote Australia. The connection between her joining the organization and her connecting with her new community is undeniable and something to be grateful for.
“I’ve done things I would never have done before (knitted enough to make a king sized blanket, run a 5K twice!). I have also been much more involved in community events and actions that I would normally have been. Even if it is not Random Acts related, we feel like we should be there and should be supporting the event.”