On Friday 13th March 2015, Cyclone Pam smashed into Vanuatu at wind speeds of over 270km/h, devastating communities across the country. As the news came through on Saturday morning, the last thing on the mind of the ZOO team was the TV shoot they were about to commence for Vanuatu Tourism.
“I was shocked to wake up on that morning to see the sheer devastation the cyclone had left behind – we knew that people we knew would be hurt and in pain,’’ said Mark Lees, Sydney ECD.
Sean Cookson, Sydney GAD, added: “As soon as I got into the office, I called the staff into the boardroom and we all got our heads together – everyone in the agency was determined to somehow help.’’
From the ensuing brainstorm arose a totally new, strategic and integrated idea; a way to support the people of Vanuatu in a time of crisis by asking Australians to donate just one day of their paid annual leave.
Pawl Cubbin, ZOO Group CEO, said: “We heard there were more than 70,000 children affected by the cyclone, including many who lost homes and schools and were facing food and water shortages, so we approached Save the Children, who have been working in Vanuatu for more than 25 years and began responding to the disaster as soon as the storm had passed.
ZOO and Save the Children are extremely grateful for all the people at VnR Creative, Sound Reservoir and Adstream, who selflessly donated their time and effort – along with all the Sydney staff – to help make this important campaign happen.”
The idea is very strong and very simple indeed.
ZOO created a web site called Save-the-Day. Going to the website, people can pledge a day, or as many days of their paid leave as they can afford. After pledging, people then contact their work’s payroll department who send the calculated, tax-free cost of the donated day’s holiday direct to Save the Children Australia.
“After the 2004 boxing day Tsunami, ZOO staff helped the people of India, and for the last five years a number of our staff have worked hard to assist World Vision and Homelessness in Australia, amongst other causes.
“We are delighted to find a way that Australians can help people in need in Vanuatu, without having to directly pull cash out of their pocket to do so. Times are tough for everybody, but with Save-the-Day people can donate something they might never miss,” said Cubbin.