Shining a light on homelessness

In a year that has challenged us all in many ways, Vinnies has held true to its mandate of providing support to vulnerable people through thick and thin.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early March 2020, we knew we had to reconfigure the Vinnies CEO Sleepout’s tried and true formula in order to be able to continue to assist Victorians who needed us most. The result was our very first online Vinnies CEO Sleepout, which was live streamed across Australia from Sydney.

So on Thursday 18 June, 1,539 CEOs and business and community leaders – and, for the first time, quite a number of their families and pets – tuned in to watch media personality Dr Andrew Rochford host the event from 7:30 to 9:30pm and interview people with lived experience and people who Vinnies have assisted, before the CEOs ‘slept out’ in their chosen 'venue' that included cars, backyards, porches or on their couches.

While we gave ourselves a more realistic – and drastically reduced – target, we underestimated the commitment of our participants, many of whom were determined to meet their fundraising goals to support people experiencing homelessness.

As a result, nationally the event raised an incredible $5.7 million, which was more than double the national fundraising target of $2.4 million.

In Victoria, 291 CEOs registered with more than 6,000 donors supporting their efforts resulting in our two events at Melbourne and Geelong smashing their original targets! Melbourne has now raised $975,251 (original goal $500,000) and Geelong $81,967 (original goal $50,000).

Victoria’s highest fundraiser, for the fifth year in a row, was CEO of Gandel Philanthropy Vedran Drakulic OAM, raising an amazing $158,146.

These funds will support Vinnies’ homeless services providing shelter, food, clothing and other support for people experiencing homelessness, or at imminent risk of losing their home.

We believe the live-streamed event also introduced a whole new audience – families, flat-mates, friends – to the issue of homelessness and what Vinnies is doing, and has been doing for more than 165 years, in that space. 

This engagement and involvement are a vote of confidence in our work and how we bring hope and change the lives of the many people we assist. 

The ongoing support is a testimony and endorsement to the many years of good works that has gone before us, and will continue long into the future. 

Vinnies is extremely grateful to everyone who participated, as well as to everyone who helped ensure the event was a success.