The Giving Season on Fire

Wildfire burning home roof on fire

Nonprofits get most of their donations this time of year. The holiday season is typically when organizations that use fundraising as a primary source of revenue get the money they need to operate year-round.

This year presents a special challenge. A natural disaster is garnering the attention and support that the people affected by it deserve. The non-profits are scrambling. How will they get the donations they need when the rest of us are giving money and resources to the victims of the Camp and Woolsey Fires?

I’m sure many of them are meeting this week to discuss how to adjust their year end appeal materials when there is even more competition than usual for donation dollars. Be cautious.  Be wary.  And, to the executives and managers of non-profits and associations, approach your appeals with dignity that rises above the fear of your donations going elsewhere.

The answer is that no matter what their cause or how many people they help regularly, this disaster and the families affected by it deserves all we can give. While there is a lot of important work being done, we haven’t had a disaster like this in our region since the San Francisco earthquake in 1989.

The Camp Fire alone (66% contained at the time I wrote this) is responsible for 77 fatalities. Over 1000 people are missing or unaccounted for. More than 15,5000 home and buildings have been destroyed, including the entire town of Paradise. Now, a contagious gastrointestinal illness, Norovirus, is spreading through evacuation shelters. The immediate outlook is grim.

We must do everything we can to help

Our friends that do good work that also need donations will have to wait and weather the storm. Right now these people must get whatever help and resources we can provide. I’m sure that would be your response as well if it were you sleeping in a shelter, family members missing and your home burnt to the ground.

How to Help victims of California Fires

Right now, people need cash and gift cards.  There’s a lot of “stuff,” being donated and there isn’t anywhere to put it. Money to buy basic supplies is immediate.

California Fire Foundation. Through its SAVE program, the California Fire Foundation is distributing $250 cash gift cards for those who have lost their homes. “Anyone who has suffered a loss of more than 25 percent of their home can get a gift card for $250 per household,” says Carroll Willis, communications director at the California Fire Foundation and the California Professional Firefighters.

United Way (Greater Los Angeles) and United Way of Northern California. Olmstead says that it is working both with immediate financial aid for survivors and on long-term recovery efforts.

California Community Foundation, assisting with long-term recovery efforts and people who have been displaced and/or unemployed because of the fires. This organization also supports mental health services.


California Fire Incident Report – Camp Fire

CBS News: California fires: Latest updates on Camp Fire, Woolsey Fire including death toll, evacuations, map

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Noah Berger, File (Noah Berger)

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