Celeste Barber’s bushfire fundraiser on Facebook is officially the largest in the platform’s history, raising over $50 million

Celeste Barber. (Photo by David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
  • Celeste Barber’s Facebook fundraiser for the NSW Rural Fire Services is the largest ever created on the platform globally.
  • Barber’s fundraiser has raised more than $50 million dollars.
  • The next largest Facebook fundraiser was created by Charlotte and Dave Willner for The Refugee and Immigrant Centre for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) in the US.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

Celeste Barber has created Facebook’s largest-ever fundraiser.

Barber’s fundraiser for The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund, to support bushfire relief efforts in Australia, has become the largest Facebook fundraiser globally, Facebook told Business Insider Australia.

The Australian comedian and actor launched the fundraiser on Friday 3 January and in just four days it raised more than $A41 million ($US28.5 million). The fundraiser has now raised more than $50 million.

Screenshot Facebook

Funds came in from Australians as well as people overseas, from countries including the US, the UK, Belgium and Portugal.

The previous fundraiser with the biggest amount raised was developed by Charlotte and Dave Willner in the US, who raised money for RAICES (The Refugee and Immigrant Centre for Education and Legal Services) in Texas. The fundraiser was designed to help immigrant families separated President Trump’s family separation policy, which has since ended. The fundraiser was created in June 2018 and raised $US20.77 million from more than 530,000 people. It took just 6 days to reach the $US20 million mark.

Following Celeste’s fundraiser in terms of financial donations is a fundraiser for wildlife rescue service WIRES, which raised more than $8 million and one for the Victorian CFA, which gained more than $1.6 million.

Screenshot Facebook

How does fundraising work on Facebook?

There are two types of Facebook fundraisers: Nonprofit and personal. Nonprofit fundraisers directly benefit charity organisations. All the funds go directly to the charity rather than to an individual and Facebook covers the fees.

On the other hand, personal fundraisers are for yourself, a friend, or a cause you care about. In personal fundraisers, the money goes to the person hosting it. Payment processing fees are deducted and, in some countries, additional taxes are applicable.

According to Facebook, the funds raised through Celeste’s page will go to the PayPal Giving Fund, a registered charity that operates in Australia, the UK and Canada. The Giving Fund raises money and distributes them to “eligible charitable organisations in those countries”.

While Facebook’s website says donations to the PayPal giving fund are sent within 15 – 90 days, Antonia Sanda, Head of Communications at Facebook Australia told Business Insider Australia this will not be the case in this instance. Instead, PayPal is working to expedite the funds raised through Celeste’s page to the NSW RFS as soon as possible.

“Facebook Australia and PayPal Giving Fund Australia recognise the importance of donated funds being granted swiftly for the purpose of disaster relief and we are working with NSW Rural Fire Service to do everything we can to expedite the process and grant donated funds to them as soon as possible,” Sanda told Business Insider Australia in an email.

While PayPal is looking to expedite the funds, it still has to “go through the appropriate checks and processes to ensure that all the money ends up going to the right accounts and organisations”.

Celeste is one of several celebrities and sportspeople in Australia and overseas that have pledged to donated to the victims of the bushfires including Russell Crowe, Nicole Kidman and Ellen Degeneres.

On Tuesday Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said Facebook has donated A$250,000 to the Australian Red Cross. Sandberg added that the organisation will match up to A$1 million in donations made to fundraising platform GlobalGiving “which will distribute the money to local non-profits working on recovery efforts.”

Business Insider Australia contacted Barber and – while she isn’t accepting interviews at the moment – she will be keeping everyone updated via Instagram.

Read more: Here are 8 ways you can donate money to Australia’s bushfire relief effort