A fundraiser by Australian comedian and actor Celeste Barber has raised more than $32 million (about $46 million AUS) to support fire companies fighting the massive bushfires in Australia, setting a global record for Facebook’s fundraising platform.
Barber started the fundraiser on January 3rd, bringing in donations from around the world. The funds will go to the PayPal Giving Fund, which will distribute the money to The Trustee for NSW Rural Fire Service & Brigades Donations Fund. Normally, this process can take between two weeks and three months, but PayPal told Business Insider Australia it would expedite the process.
Fires that began in New South Wales led the Australian government to declare a state of emergency back in November. Aided by hot, dry conditions, the fires have spread across the continent, consuming 15 million acres, with thousands of people evacuated and at least 24 people reported dead so far. Smoke from the fires, which is causing unprecedented air pollution in Australia’s capital, could be seen as far away as New Zealand.
Facebook introduced its personal fundraisers feature in 2017 to allow crowdfunding efforts on its platform. It limited the categories users can fundraise for to medical bills, crisis and disaster relief, personal emergencies, and help for people after a death in the family. The crowdfunding feature expanded on the charitable fundraising feature Facebook introduced in 2015.
The Verge has reached out to Barber for comment on the fundraiser. If we hear back from her we’ll update.