2020 Northwest United States Wildfires
Sep 17, 2020
CharityWatch announces a list of highly efficient and accountable charities involved in efforts to aid victims of the Northwest United States wildfires.
Although there are still several months left of fire season, major fires have devastated large parts of California, Oregon, and Washington. Drought, high winds, and intense heat are just some of the extreme conditions causing wildfires to continue to sweep through these Western states. At least 36 people have lost their lives to the 2020 fires. Thousands of people across the region have been evacuated while hundreds of homes and thousands of structures have been destroyed.
Official figures in California report that 3.4 million acres have burned so far in 2020 versus the 259,823 acres that burned in 2019. In Oregon, approximately 1 million acres have been burned, while about 807,000 acres have been ravaged in Washington state. More than 17,000 firefighters are battling the fires in California and are making slow but steady progress in slowing the fires. Firefighters in Oregon also continue to work diligently to contain and manage the region’s fires.
Climate change is making the yearly wildfires worse. “Wildfire activity in the United States is changing dangerously, particularly in the west, as conditions become hotter and drier due to climate change,” the Union of Concerned Scientists (a CharityWatch Top-Rated charity) says.
The Related Charities listed below perform favorably in relation to CharityWatch benchmarks:
1) A charity should spend at least 75% of its budget on program services.
2) A charity should spend no more than $25 to raise $100.
Contact your favorite charities to find out if they provide the specific types of aid that you would like to fund, e.g., emergency shelters, food and water, health care, psychological trauma counseling, rebuilding efforts, etc.
As with any charitable contribution, Americans wanting to help with disaster relief efforts should only give to legitimate charities with an established track record of helping people in need.
- Be on guard for a surge of solicitations related to any highly publicized crisis. There will be fraudulent charity solicitations, some involving websites and email links attempting to steal your credit card information for identity theft or insert malware on your computer.
- Do not respond to, or click on any attachments, links or pictures included in, emails or text messages received from unknown senders.
- Social media will include many fake victims. Do not donate to unknown individuals purporting to need aid that post on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. These may be fraudsters, and even if they are legitimate victims, they may receive an unfairly large amount of aid.
- Scammers may try to use copy-cat names similar to those of well-known charities. Avoid name confusion by independently verifying that the charity is legitimate before you donate. Reputable charities will not pressure you to give immediately.
- Beware of individuals or others claiming to be third party intermediaries for charities or those in need. It is best to give directly only to the charities that you are confident are legitimate and recognized for providing disaster or humanitarian relief.
SEND A CHECK, NOT GOODS
The best way to help is by sending a check or donating securely by credit card. Such cash donations enable charities to buy the most needed types of food, medicine, clothing, shelter materials, and other supplies. By buying relief products locally or regionally, charities can reduce shipping costs and more rapidly deliver assistance. Before sending any goods, first contact the charity to find out if they are appropriate and if it will be cost effective to distribute them. For example, after a tsunami in the Pacific, boxes of donated winter coats, scarves and fuzzy hats, completely useless items in tsunami-stricken nations with tropical climates, were sent.
CharityWatch identifies the following Top-Rated charities, which are providing relief for the victims of the Northwest United States wildfires and receive an “A” or “B+” grade based on the portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency. Top-Rated charities also must meet CharityWatch's Governance and Transparency benchmarks. Contact the organizations below for information on specific relief operations now underway.