Foundations can play a critical role in helping communities affected by natural disasters when the arduous task of recovery is getting started. After media coverage of disasters dissipates, communities often have increased needs that philanthropy is uniquely suited to address with sustained support. Community foundations can be an excellent source of information on what those community needs may be.

In response to several of the recent wildfires that have ravaged the west, here are some organizations that may offer funders options for supporting recovery efforts:

  • North Valley Community Foundation, Chico, CA: The Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund has recently given out more than $140,250 in grants for shelter and relief supplies for those impacted by the Bear/North Complex and August Complex Fires. https://www.nvcf.org/wildfire-relief-and-recovery-fund/
  • Community Foundation Sonoma County, CA: The Sonoma County Resilience Fund, since 2017 has raised and distributed more than $10 million in grants to nonprofits working on the front lines of disaster recovery  https://www.sonomacf.org/sonoma-county-resilience-fund/resilience-fund-grants/
  • Napa Valley Community Foundation, CA: Has had 2 distinct responses to the fires, flooding and earthquakes.
    • The Napa Valley Community Disaster Relief Fund is responding to the recent LNU Lightening Complex Fires and the Glass Fire. So far, the Foundation has granted nearly $900,000 to supply gift cards for immediate needs and temporary shelter to those displaced by the fires, as well as to provide essential emergency services, like counseling, food access and insurance navigation. In the coming weeks, the Disaster Relief Fund will continue to provide immediate response grants for additional safety net services, like legal and housing assistance, as well as the launch of cash assistance available to homeowners and renters affected by the fires. https://www.napavalleycf.org/our-response-to-the-2020-napa-county-wildfires/
    • In 2016 (prompted by earthquake and fires), the Napa Valley Community Foundation launched The Napa Valley Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) to create stronger community resilience and coordination amongst the nonprofit and public sector during disaster mitigation, response, relief and recovery. The community foundation continues to support this effort.  https://napavalleycoad.org/
  • California Community Foundation (for Los Angeles County):
    • The Wildfire Relief Fund supports both mid-term to long-term recovery efforts for those affected by California wildfires. Since the Wildfire Relief Fund opened in 2003, it has granted more than $24 million to support relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of these devastating wildfires.  https://www.calfund.org/wildfire-relief-fund/
    • The California Community Foundation also has a “Disaster Relief” page on its website with some excellent tips to guide one’s giving in a disaster (e.g. “give money, not food” and “Give to the organization, not the disaster.” (This same page also includes links to the website of other disaster relief efforts.)  https://www.calfund.org/disaster/
  • Innovia Foundation (the community foundation for Eastern Washington and North Idaho): The Wildfire Emergency Response Fund for Eastern Washington provides emergency relief to nonprofit organizations and businesses supporting communities, individuals and families adversely impacted by the 2020 wildfire season.  https://innovia.org/search/?_sf_s=wildfires

For general information about disaster response and wildfires, here are some additional resources:

  • Center for Disaster Philanthropy (which helps donors maximize the impact of their disaster-related grantmaking):   https://disasterphilanthropy.org/
  • National Forest Foundation (with a mission to bring people together to restore and enhance our National Forests and Grasslands):  https://www.nationalforests.org/
  • Climate Leadership Initiative (an organization that connects donors to other donors funding in areas of mutual, climate-related interest):  https://climatelead.org/