I first met Danielle Crismani at the annual Babes in Business Christmas lunch in 2011. We had both won awards and I went up to congratulate this woman I had heard so much about and who had literally inspired a city. Danielle Crismani is the founder and mastermind behind Baked Relief.
Baked Relief is a movement started by Danielle Crismani (aka Digella) after severe flooding devastated parts of Queensland in January 2011. She put the word out about what she was doing on her blog Digella and on Twitter and Facebook. Offers of help and baking came rushing in soon after. If you live in Queensland you will no doubt know all about it as it has been at the forefront of disaster relief, providing an option that allows us to feel like we are contributing and making a difference to those who have been ravaged by natural disasters.
Having witnessed the Baked Relief phenonomen via Twitter and Facebook, I was in awe of Danielle and the simple and selfless idea that allows ordinary people to help other ordinary people in need. She immediately came to mind as someone who not only inspires others but has created a movement born straight from a very big heart. I sat down with Danielle to get some insights into where Baked Relief began and what direction it is heading.
How was Baked Relief born?
Baked Relief started on 11th Jan 2011. I thought that I could help by baking some treats and taking them down to the SES and volunteers at my local depot who were sandbagging, as manual labour isn’t my style. I updated my Facebook status and then tweeted about it. It then exploded!
Did you expect it would ever get to this level of success?
When I first hash tagged #bakedrelief I knew we were onto something. I discovered that there were people just like me who wanted to help but didn’t really know how. Either the men in their lives were out sandbagging, they were with their kids or were working in the day and they could whip up a batch of cookies after dinner to deliver to those who needed it.
I think a lot of entrepreneurs stumble onto something which turns their own life around without a lot of premeditated thought. The direction of Baked Relief has always moved into different phases when we have seen the need and enabled the response. This is why there are studies and engagement into social entrepreneurship more than ever. Finding an avenue to help, an untapped resource and enabling them to invest, whether that is time, action or money is the future of charity.
How do you balance your philanthropic work with having a young family?
My children know how valuable Baked Relief is as two of them were isolated on my mum’s farm during 2011 floods with little food and no power for three weeks. That said, I have two friends (who I met during Baked Relief 2011) who are fantastic support with Baked Relief and couldn’t have continued through during the recent flooding in Queensland without them working the administration with me.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Finding time and money in the “off season” from disasters to properly plan for future needs. It’s something I have promised myself to invest in during 2013. That said, no one knows, when and how these disasters will hit. What we do know is how social media works in these instances and what support people need on the ground in those times.
Honestly, have you ever had dark days when you wanted to give up?
I never felt the want to give up. But sure there have been days during peak disaster time when you just want a break. Managing people’s need to give can be difficult. We use a blog and Facebook page to list drop off points and locations requesting Baked Relief. Many people want to help, but some need extra direction and support. Volunteers looking for direction becomes a huge task when numbers increase and this becomes 40+ people a day emailing with the same question. “Where can I take my baked relief?”
Did you ever get any negative feedback when you started Baked Relief and how did you handle it?
I had a few people close to me say “don’t worry about it, someone else will do it.” It didn’t take long before they realised that the thousand or so people who reached out to help in 2011 did actually mean something profound.
What is your corporate background?
My corporate past is varied. I have managed a boutique, have been in home construction, was an Executive Assistant in a large corporation and more recently in Stakeholder Engagement. My belief in a company and its direction is my main motivation when choosing a role. Currently I have turned my direction solely to food and nurturing of the family and work part time as a Thermomix Consultant.
Describe yourself in 5 words?
Organised, creative, kind, funny, thoughtful.
What is your personal mantra in life?
Never stop learning. If you want to make a difference to your own life, begin by making a difference to someone else’s. And lastly, one for young women; your academic marks might not be so great but you can successfully succeed in life with a great attitude and hard work.
Danielle is proof to all of us that one person CAN start a movement and can make a difference, contrary to popular belief. She continues to inspire and lead an amazing team of people that are the growing number of Baked Reliefers. I, for one, say Danielle you are amazing and a force to be reckoned with. Now that is one woman with girl power!
I encourage you to check out Baked Relief on Facebook and on Twitter (@bakedrelief) to see firsthand the public support Baked Relief gets from the community.