8 Best Charities for Wildfire Relief (Complete 2021 List)

8 Best Charities for Wildfire Relief (Complete 2021 List)

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Dennis Kamprad

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Stay impactful,

Wildfires cause devastation and are a semi-regular phenomenon. People who are affected lose more property and infrastructure than lives, whereas wildlife numbers drop significantly. It is, therefore, reasonable to get engaged in philanthropy towards those affected by wildfires.

The best charity for wildfire relief is The American Red Cross, which has a history of supporting such efforts and sets up dedicated funds when wildfires strike. And with support provided in California, Oregon, and Washington, it is also the charity with the broadest geographical impact.

In this article, we’ll cover a complete list of the best charities for wildfire relief. You’ll also learn about the kind of efforts made by each organization and how you can support their wildfire relief efforts.

Below are our favorite charities for wildfire relief (you can click on their link to directly jump to their section in this article):

(At the end of this article we’ll also share our six-step approach on how you can select the best charity to support. And we’ll give you an overview of how you can find out how to best support your chosen charity.)

American Red Cross

As one of the largest charitable organizations in the world, the American Red Cross has an active stake in being at the forefront of any disaster relief effort, including wildfires. That is why the charity leader has supported California, Washington, and Oregon in times of need. With every wildfire having its own donation page, the American Red Cross gives its patrons plenty of choice in how to donate. It even allows one to donate their stocks.

How to make sure that you are contributing to wildfire relief? Direct donations to The American Red Cross do not allow you to specify how your donation should be used. Visit the wildfire relief page (usually available from the dropdown menu) and make a donation there.

Wildfire Relief Fund by California Community Foundation 

Wildfires are not a year-round phenomenon like hunger and racism. But when they happen, they suddenly increase the demand for rescue, infrastructure rebuilding, and community wellness. That is why certain charities set up funds meant to go active as soon as there is a need for philanthropy. The Wildfire Relief Fund is such a fund meant to provide support to those in need of healthcare, cash, and items of basic needs like food and groceries.

The fund has been able to deliver $24 million worth of aid and donations to California. With the majority of the fires being over 90% containment, over 92000 structures have been damaged. These are mostly places that people considered home, and the result of over 4 million acres burning has an equivalent impact on the wildlife.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Wildfires are considered natural disasters by many and environmental problems by others. That opens the door for environment and wildlife advocacy organizations as well as disaster relief organizations to contribute to the cause. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy serves areas often ravaged by wildfires. As a result, it is possible to help the lesser-known areas devastated by almost 60,000 wildfires. Kansas and Montana have a history of regular wildfires. 

The center asserts the following problems that it aims to combat:

  • Health risks caused by wildfire smoke, with millions of acres of fire burning near areas people live in, the UV rays and fumes caused by active fires can pose a serious risk.
  • Burned farms near banks can remove the hold of trees and plants on the land, causing mudslides and flooding.
  • The residual toxins of various plastics and consumer goods burning became ingrained in the area’s soil and water sources. This requires careful removal.

How to make sure that you are contributing to wildfire relief? When you click the donate page of the website, there will be multiple active disaster listings. And when there is an active wildfire that requires rescue and donation efforts, the wildfire will be listed on the top. Simply select the wildfire you wish to donate towards fighting.

Oregon Community Foundation

Most charity is driven by awareness, which comes through media stories. Unfortunately, certain wildfires do not get the coverage they deserve. Oregon wildfires leave the same devastation and cost to wildlife, surrounding communities, and human lives. The Oregon Community Foundation combats the problems caused by wildfires in the region. It is efficient because of its local grassroots level impact and also covers other community welfare projects.

One of the interesting things about contributing to Oregon’s Wildfire Relief and Recovery fund is that you make a big impact as smaller communities are supported just with a few million dollars. Certain boroughs and counties are unable to overcome the fires’ devastation after over $80 million in donations. With just $1.2 million, Oregon’s relief efforts are lifting people out of the danger of wildfires, rebuilding structures, and taking care of their basic needs.

How to make sure that you are contributing to wildfire relief? Visit the foundation’s page for Wildlife Relief and Recovery. Click the Immediate Wildfire Emergency Response or The Recovery and Rebuilding Fund.

California Fire Foundation

Because of the devastation caused by California wildfires repeatedly, dedicated funds have been set up. But what often gets left behind is the fact that first responders risk their lives every time there is a fire. The California Fire Foundation makes sure that this heroism is appreciated and that families of fallen firefighters are taken care of. Through emotional support and financial assistance, the foundation made a difference since 2011 and continues to go strong in 2020.

It is also important that organizations are transparent with what they do with donations. The Fire Foundation releases its audited financials every year, and it remains evident that the money goes towards helping the families of firefighters and the injured firefighters.

Operation USA – Education and Relief

Back to organizations that address broader disaster relief but have dedicated funds for wildfires, Operation USA is one of the oldest organizations of its kind. It has been active since the 1970s, and many philanthropists like the legitimacy brought to their donation by an organization that has been active for half a century.

But in addition to the legitimacy of experience, the operation asserts that it only has ten full-time employees, so the overhead is kept low enough to have most of your donation go towards a cause.

How to make sure that you are contributing to wildfire relief? When you make a donation on their donation page, make sure you leave comments saying you would like the donation to be used for wildfire relief.

Americares

An organization that leverages national pride for philanthropic reasons, Americares is active across various domains of disaster relief, including the 2020 Wildfires. With a history spanning back to the 1970s and a dedicated fund for wildfires in 2020, the organization’s local teams have actively initiated relief efforts for those impacted by the fires. 

Americares has previously given cash assistance to those displaced because of wildfires. With cash assistance and temporary housing in hotels, a semblance of stability is introduced to the affected lives.

How to make sure that you are contributing to wildfire relief? Americares has a diverse range of uses for your donations with hundreds of causes. Therefore, you should make sure you visit the wildfire relief page to make your donations there.

Entertainment Industry Foundation

The Entertainment Industry Foundation leverages the entertainment industry’s philanthropic efforts to do good in multiple communities across the United States. While you do not need to be an entertainer to donate, it is the preferred charity among actors, singers, and artists. By allowing anonymous donation, the foundation automatically filters for donors who care more about the cause than the perception.

Since 2016, the organization has been involved with fighting every wildfire regardless of its locale. This makes the charity a priority for those who want to make an urgent contribution upon a wildfire’s inception. Furthermore, if you are interested in donating towards rebuilding efforts, you can still rely on the Entertainment Industry Foundation.

How to make sure that you are contributing to wildfire relief? Direct donations to the foundation are used at the foundation’s discretion. To make sure your donation contributes to wildfire relief, make sure you click a wildfire listing active on the site and donates to the wildfire fund.

How Can You Select the Best Charities to Support?

The charities on the list are, we deem, the best charities working for wildfire relief. However, you may have a particular homeless charity you want to support. Let’s look at what you can do to ensure your donation has the most significant impact.

  • Check out the charity website. Charities that are worthy of your donations are transparent in their mission and their figures. Familiarise yourself with their history, mission, and values. The website is the best place to start.
  • Identify the charity’s mission. Without a goal, the charity is likely to fail. If the charity’s mission isn’t clear, it’s probably worth looking for a charity that does have a clear mission. 
  • Check if the charity has measurable goals. An effective charity has clear goals. You want to know your donation will help the charity reach its goals. But if it doesn’t have targets, it’s likely to fail or squander your gift. The charity should be able to account for its spending and supply evidence of the work they do.
  • Assess the successes or goals the charity has achieved. You wouldn’t invest in a business if it kept missing its targets. In the same way, charities are like this too. If no one is assessing the progress a charity makes in reaching its targets, the chances are not making positive change.
  • Check the charity’s financials and stats. Trustworthy organizations will publish financial statements and reports each year. Some might be exempt from having to do so, but they should be able to provide them to public members who are interested in donating.
  • Locate sources who work with or benefit from the charity. Word of mouth and first-hand experience of a charity’s work lets you know the charity’s quality. If you’re able to do so, check out the charity for yourself or speak to someone familiar with it. This way, your donation will go to the right place. 

How You Can Support These Charities?

After you’ve made your decision, it’s time for you to decide on how you’d like to help the charities you’ve chosen. Check how you can help – each charity runs specific programs that have unique aims. Find out what the aim of such programs is and whether they are right for you. 

Here are a few ways you can help your chosen charity:

  • Donate money. You can find donation pages on the website of most charities. Your donation can be a one-time payment, or you can set it to be deducted regularly at different intervals. You can mostly pay via credit card, but some charities also take PayPal or Bitcoin payments.
  • Buy their official merchandise. The charities can also raise money by selling merchandise. So, you can support them by buying the mugs, shirts, caps, pens, pencils, and any other such items they may be selling. Ideally, you should buy as much as you can to share and spread the word about the charity’s activities.
  • Donate a percentage of your online purchases. If you bought anything on sites like Amazon lately, you’d find a prompt asking you to donate to your favorite charities through their Amazon Smile program. You can set this up so that your chosen charities will get a fraction of your online purchases.
  • Engage in volunteer work. As you’ve seen from our descriptions above, some charities engage in a lot of local and grassroots programs. You can help by taking on and organizing the program in your local area.
  • Help their fundraising efforts. You can spread the word about the charity in your workplace, school, church, etc., and hold creative fundraising drives on social media or offline within your small circles.
  • Share their stories. Most charities have compelling stories that you can share with your audience to attract more people to the cause.

Final Thoughts

Wildfires are a kind of recurring disaster that creates a sudden need for a first response, but because of their seasonal nature, very few charities actively combat the effects of wildfires all year round. Below are some of the steps to help victims of wildfires:

  • Select an organization based on its past performance during wildfires.
  • Decide whether you want to help with the first response or community building after the devastation.
  • Make sure you are contributing to the right fund within the charity instead of donating on the front page.

Now you are ready to make your donation work.

Stay impactful,



PS: Finally, I want to leave you with a thought-provoking TED talk from Dan Pallotta, a leading philanthropic activist and fundraiser, about what is wrong with the way we think about charities – and what we can do about it:

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