How Carly Fradgley turned donations on her doorstep into a charity helping thousands of new families
by Andrew Bryan
Carly Fradgley (Class of 2004) knew she was onto something big when she came home one day to find bags of clothes, prams and baby items piled high on her doorstep.
“The garage got full really quickly,” says the founder and CEO of Baby Give Back, a charity that helps vulnerable babies, children and families.
”There was a serious amount of need much greater than I ever realised right in our own backyard. From then, it was a matter of growing quickly so we could keep matching that need and keep accepting donations from amazing families in our community.”
For 18 months, Mrs Fradgley’s home at Tallebudgera on the Gold Coast was packed full of donations, her rooms and garage overflowing with generosity. What started as a way to donate some of her son’s baby equipment had morphed into a full-time operation that needed more space, more volunteers, and all her time. The rapid growth of Baby Give Back was matched only by the incredible need in the community.
Mrs Fradgley realised she needed to give up her work as a lawyer and focus full-time on the new venture. The transition was stressful but guided by the skills she learned at Bond University.
“I couldn’t do what I do and grow an organisation like this without the foundations I had from that legal experience at Bond,” she says.
“Having a law degree accelerated through Bond enabled me to start working quite young. I was 20 when I started as a lawyer so I had 10 years of a law career before I started wrapping up and working for Baby Give Back.”
For a long time she tried juggling her two roles but eventually, feeling burned out, she decided to devote 100 per cent of her energy to the charity.
“You can’t really work part-time as a lawyer,” she says. “I’m so thankful for everything Bond gave me and it has really helped me in my new path at Baby Give Back.”
Meanwhile, the donations continued to pour in, also filling friends’ homes and garages.
“It was a real community effort,” she says. “We knew we needed to get a warehouse and that was critical in being able to help more people.
"When we realised there were so many people wanting to donate their baby stuff, we had a meeting with a case worker who supports vulnerable families. She told us of families who had escaped domestic violence with nothing, families who had gone through really severe financial hardship and had to choose between nappies or food for their children.
"That was when it was really evident to me that we had to grow this and support more families.”
One in six Queensland children suffer in poverty, a statistic that motivates Mrs Fradgley to not rest on the success of her growing organisation. The pandemic presented more challenges, but also drove demand. The work of Baby Give Back was more vital than ever.
“In 2020 we had a 37 per cent increase in terms of children helped,” she says. “It was massive for our team to cope with, but it also proved we were able to provide practical support. We’ve been able to help case workers connect with more families, provide that immediate support and give people a sense of hope – that there is a community around them.
"I think one thing COVID has done is force a lot of us to look more locally.”
Baby Give Back’s next goal is to expand into Brisbane where Mrs Fradgley says there is no similar organisation.
“There is incredible need in Logan and if we can secure a warehouse in Brisbane we could meet that demand. We also help a lot in Northern NSW. We know what we do works, we know bringing the community together is the best way to help families in need.”
The best of humanity was on display at Christmas when Baby Give Back was able to supply 2,500 gifts to children who otherwise would not have received anything.
“Christmas 2020 was one of the hardest times we’ve had since we started Baby Give Back. In a year like 2020, I couldn’t bear the thought of any kid missing out at Christmas, but there were a lot of gift collections that normally happen that didn’t because of COVID restrictions.
"We had case workers telling us there were so many kids that weren’t going to have any gifts. We managed to fulfil every single request, so that was incredibly special although a very chaotic time for us.
"Courage in 2020 for us – my team and everyone I saw – was never giving up. No matter how hard, tired, emotionally depleted we were, there was always something bigger to focus on.”