At the start of last year, I made a commitment to donate as much as I drank. Now, in the interests of accountability and transparency, I’ll show you how I matched every cent spent on alcohol this year with donations to charity.

I provided a half-time report, summarised below and which you can read in full here.

January: Youth Off The Streets – $193.90
February: Mission Australia – $145.60
March: Common Grace – $172.30
April: Lifeline – $185.50
May: The Freedom Hub – $127.70
June: Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) – $28.50

July: Vinnies – $283.90

What to say about Vinnies? Everyone knows them; they’re pretty much part of the fabric of this country. And they do anything and everything you could think of in service of the most vulnerable. I wasn’t going to copy-paste it all, but it’s an impressive list:

•    Advocacy
•    Aged Care facilities
•    Budget counselling
•    Care and support centres
•    Childcare services
•    Children’s activities and holiday programs
•    Disability services
•    Disaster recovery
•    Drug and alcohol rehabilitation services
•    Emergency accommodation
•    Employment support services
•    Friendship programs for people with a mental illness
•    Home and hospital visitation
•    Homeless accommodation and support services
•    Low-cost food outlets
•    Migrant and refugee support services
•    Mobile food services
•    Overseas support programs
•    Prison visitation
•    Refuge accommodation for women and children
•    School-base mentoring programs
•    Self-care aged units
•    Subsidised accommodation for tertiary students
•    Support programs for people with a mental illness
•    Supported employment for people with a physical or mental disability
•    Tutoring program for refugees
•    Vinnies Centres
•    Volunteer programs
•    Youth drop-in centres
•    Youth programs

Incidentally I sourced several quality, ethical and affordable outfits for my Dressember campaign at one of their op shops.

August: Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) – $62.80

Switched on readers will note that I already donated to RACS in June. But, given both June and August were moderate months, alcoholically-speaking, I added up the totals and donated the lot to this legal centre doing important advocacy and casework for refugees.

September: Asylum Seeker Resource Centre (ASRC) – $226.21

Perhaps the best known not-for-profit serving asylum seekers is the ASRC. They run a bunch of programs supporting the physical, mental and social wellbeing of those seeking asylum on our shores, including a foodbank, health services, legal assistance, social enterprises. This is in addition to their strong advocacy work.

I came across the ALS while preparing a story about the Housing Repairs Project, a pro bono partnership Legal Aid NSW, law firm Gilbert+Tobin and the Dharriwaa Elders Group.

I was impressed and encouraged by how this collaboration identifies a hidden, everyday problem and tackles details that actually contribute to significant systemic change for Aboriginal people in regional NSW.

The ALS’s role in this, alongside the elders group, is to identify clients and connect them to the city lawyers who bring their legal expertise to the table.

Worthy joint winners of the Pro Bono Partnership Award at the 2017 Justice Awards.

November: Cathy Freeman Foundation – $259.41

I grew up hearing about Cathy Freeman and seeing her on the news regularly (she won stuff, often). I also knew that she did charitable work after wrapping up her stellar running career.

But I hadn’t heard of her foundation. It turns out they do some life-changing work providing educational opportunities for Aboriginal Australians. This includes scholarships for older students but also, crucially, programs that improve school attendance rates and the ability of younger students to learn better when they are in class.

December: WWF-Australia – $262.30

A number of organisations advocate for better policies to mitigate climate change, but WWF-Australia not only carries the authority and cred of the international organisation, they also do more tangible work preserving our fauna and flora. For example, they’re fighting to stop overfishing in the Great Barrier Reef and promoting carbon farming as one of the ways to address climate change.

The final numbers

Grand total: $2033.79

Average monthly spend: $169.48

Booziest month: July. It was cold, okay? Or perhaps I was thirsty after spending less than a dollar a day on alcohol the preceding month …


I’m not sure how to feel about the fact that I spent two grand on booze within a year. According to this woman who was spending $4,000 annually on alcohol before she quit drinking, the average for Australians under 35 is $1,248 – but that figure doesn’t account for the 20 percent of the population that doesn’t drink at all.

It’s significant dollars on a substance that has the potential to turn you into a vomiting idiot (or an aggressive douchebag, or a sobbing mess, or a dangerous driver on the roads). But a drink in moderation is also a way to celebrate, connect with people. I’m not planning on going dry.

But I am planning on making sure my spending on alcohol never exceeds my spending on loving my neighbour, helping the vulnerable and improving our world. Will you do the same?

Header image credit: John Murzaku.

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