Wise Giving Wednesday: Donating for Relief for California Dixie Fire

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calendar icon Aug 11, 2021

The Dixie Fire which began on July 13th has become the second largest in California’s history. So far, almost 500,000 acres have burned and about 9,000 people are fighting the wildfires. The situation is horrific with firenadoes and other fire phenomena taking place. As reported, about 12,000 people in over eight counties are under evacuation orders.

To assist those seeking to provide help to either the impacted families, firefighters, or both, here are some suggestions.

  • Give to Established Charities - Charities with experience in handling disaster situations will be more likely to be able to provide assistance quickly and effectively. Be cautious of new organizations that make promises to help without any connections, budgets, or plans.  
  • Volunteer and Gifts in Kind - If you live near the impacted areas, one giving alternative might be to provide housing for firefighters or donate non-perishable food to help feed those battling the blaze. Contact charities such as the Salvation Army and United Way to find out more.
  • Be Wary of Vague Appeals - Watch out for vague appeals that don’t describe the intended use of funds. For example, will they be used to help displaced families cover temporary housing, rebuild burned communities, or help address other needs?  Also, unless told otherwise, donors assume that funds collected quickly in the wake of a disaster will be spent just as quickly.
  • Crowdfunding Cautions - For crowdfunding postings, it is always safest to contribute to people and/or families that you personally know that have posted pleas for financial help. While some crowdfunding sites take precautions in carefully screening postings after a disaster, others might not. If unsure, review the posting procedures described on the crowdfunding site and also find out about transaction fees and other specifics. If the posting claims they will be forwarding funds to an existing charity, consider cutting out the middle man and visit the website of the charity directly.
  • Financial Transparency in Disaster Relief - After funds are raised to address a disaster, it is vital for organizations to provide an accounting of how funds were spent. Transparent organizations will post this information on their websites so that anyone can find out and not have to wait until financial statements are available sometime in the future.

The following organizations are BBB Accredited Charities (i.e., meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability) and currently have a website that indicates they are collecting funds to assist those impacted by the fires in California.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance Report
California fires

American Red Cross
BBB Wise Giving Alliance report
California fires

Direct Relief
BBB Wise Giving Alliance report
California fires

BBB Wise Giving Alliance report
California fires

Salvation Army
BBB Wise Giving Alliance report on national office
Regional Salvation Army activity on fires

Video of the Week

As part of the Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video interview with Mary Partin, President & CEO of the Dan Marino Foundation (a BBB Accredited Charity) that assists the autism community in South Florida. The organization operates the Marino Campus, which is a 10-month post-secondary education program to help young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities to aid in employment opportunities.  DMF also offers scholarships to post-doctoral neuroscience students researching autism and operates a virtual job interview training system.

Heart of Giving Podcast 

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features an interview with Dr. Carylynn Larson, the founder of Rock Recovery, who discusses her personal journey and inspiring story of overcoming incredible obstacles and learning from her experiences. Rock Recovery is an organization dedicated to bridging gaps in eating-disorder treatment. 

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance 


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