How to raise money and fundraise for Hurricane Maria victims.

How to Raise Money and Fundraise for Hurricane Maria (and Irma) Victims

Updated 10:19 AM EST on Wednesday, September 22nd.

When news broke that Hurricane Maria was gaining strength and on a path to slam into Puerto Rico, we were devastated. After Harvey, Irma, and Jose, it is hard to believe that yet another hurricane is making its way through the Caribbean.

Now, as reports come in about what has transpired this week, we know that Hurricane Maria first battered Dominica as a Category 5 storm. Maria then traveled through the Caribbean to St. Croix, damaging the island that had narrowly avoided the full force of Irma.

Maria also made landfall in Puerto Rico, damaging property, inciting flooding, and cutting power. The weather was so severe on the island that CNN is now reporting that 100% of Puerto Rico is without electricity.

Maria’s next targets are Turks & Caicos and the Bahamas, and after losing some momentum while ashore in Puerto Rico, the storm has regained its strength and is up to a Category 3 storm.

If you’re here, it means you’re looking to help the victims of Hurricane Maria (and Hurricane Irma and Harvey and Jose). To get the word out about how to aid those affected by the hurricane, we’ve compiled this list of places to donate, how to raise money, and how to give your time.

At this point, any help you can give is needed. We don’t fully know how much damage Maria has caused and will cause, but what we do know is that the region has already been battered by Irma and needs whatever money we can send.

Here’s a comprehensive list of aid options to get you started.

12 Ways to Raise Money for and Donate to the Relief Efforts for Hurricane Maria Victims

1. Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign

For those who don’t know, crowdfunding is a fundraising technique that uses the power of personal networks and social sharing. With a crowdfunding campaign, an individual sets up a campaign page with details about the fundraiser and a goal. Then, the individual shares the campaign with friends and family and their broader network, asking for donations. It’s a simple and easy way to raise money online.

One of the best ways to help with the hurricane and flooding relief effort is to send funding to the organizations with boots on the ground. With straight donations, the money can be allocated at the discretion of the receiving organization which is ideal in such times of crisis. Crowdfunding is the perfect, efficient way to get some immediate funding.

First, you’ll want to pick a crowdfunding website. Once you’ve made your choice, get the basics of your campaign set up, like your goal and campaign description. Next, you’ll want to finalize and share the page. Be sure to mention exactly how your funds will help with Hurricane Maria (and Irma) relief and why this is such an important cause.

2. Contribute to a Compelling Crowdfunding Campaign

If you see the value in crowdfunding campaigns for disaster relief and want to help following Hurricane Irma but don’t think that you have the time or resources to run an effective crowdfunding campaign, don’t worry. You can still get involved by finding a campaign to contribute to.

Because of its speed and relative low-maintenance, crowdfunding campaigns are often launched to help with disaster relief, including hurricanes and floods. For Hurricane Irma, its an effective way to instantly give a bit of money and support the relief effort.

Visit a crowdfunding site, and use the site’s search features to locate campaigns tied to Hurricane Irma. You might need to sort by category (such as natural disaster relief funds) or by keyword like “hurricane.” Then, review the available campaigns and contribute to a qualified and compelling campaign.

One way to make your donation go even further is to contribute to a fundraising campaign which has a matching sponsor. It allows you to easily multiply the impact of your donation!

There are a variety of matching gift campaigns running for the recent hurricanes. For example:

Here’s a campaign launched today (article update done on Sept. 22nd, 2017) where Philips Lighting is matching donations!

3. Assist in the Rebuilding Effort

You can assist in the rebuilding effort through the Habitat for Humanity Global Village. It is a massive global volunteering effort run by Habitat for Humanity that helps ensure everyone has a decent place to live.

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, countless buildings and homes have been destroyed.

Habitat for Humanity and its services are uniquely equipped to help rebuild the Caribbean regions affected by Hurricane Irma and those that will be affected by Hurricane Maria.

Visit the Habitat for Humanity Global Village main page and donate directly or find an individual crowdfunding campaign that matches what you’re looking to support.

4. Donate to the Red Cross

The Red Cross website explains its services best, “Red Cross volunteers and staff work to deliver vital services — from providing relief and support to those in crisis, to helping you be prepared to respond in emergencies.”

The Red Cross is one of the largest nonprofits in the world, and it works tirelessly to help with relief efforts, such as recovery following an event like Hurricane Maria and Hurricane Irma.

By donating to the Red Cross, you’re donating to experts in disaster relief.

Donating is simple. Just go to the Red Cross website and click the donate button.

If you want to donate blood, instead of funds, there’s also a “Give Blood” option on their website that can help connect you with a local spot to donate.

5. Support Episcopal Relief & Development’s Fund

The donation page for Episcopal Relief & Development’s fund explains exactly what your donation will be accomplishing:

“Your gift provides our partners on the ground with critical supplies, such as food and water for communities devastated by Hurricane Irma and other storms. You’ll also help us empower communities to not only prepare for emergencies, but assist with the long-term efforts needed to rebuild and heal.”

Their relief efforts are especially focused in the Caribbean (such as in Puerto Rico) which are all in desperate need of relief following Irma and anticipating Maria.

To give, visit the donation page for the fund and submit an online donation.

6. Send Money to a Food Bank

You can send any food that won’t go bad and is low/no-prep, however you need to be very careful about what you send and how much you send.

Most food banks will be able to help you figure out what you should and shouldn’t send, so be sure to consult the food bank’s website before mailing anything. If you’re unsure, you can always donate money to the food bank to make its own purchases, in fact, in many cases, sending money is the best approach.

One of the biggest challenges in areas affected by disasters like Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria is a lack of food for the region’s people.

Supporting regional food banks is a great way to ensure no hurricane victims go hungry as a result of the storm.

You can find a local food bank that is servicing a region affected by Hurricane Irma, or you can find a larger organization offering food banking services.

7. See If Your Company Matches Donations

Matching gift programs are corporate philanthropy programs in which companies match donations made by their employees to a wide range of nonprofit organizations.

Employee matching gift programs are an easy way to make your financial contribution go twice as far.

Make sure that if you’re one of the 15-19 million individuals who work for a company with a matching gift program that you submit your matching gift request.

We’ve partnered with Double the Donation to make their matching gift search tool available for free during the hurricane relief efforts.

Just type in your company’s name (or any company if you’re curious if they offer a matching gift program) to pull up matching gift forms, guidelines, and instructions.

Type in a company name (ex. Verizon, Bank of America, Microsoft) below:

8. Give to UNICEF

UNICEF, or The United Nations Children’s Fund, works in over 190 countries and territories.

According to their site, “UNICEF has helped save more children’s lives than any other humanitarian organization by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more.”

In the aftermath of any major hurricane, UNICEF puts money and boots on the ground to help children impacted by the storm.

UNICEF is a great organization to support if you’re looking to help out kids who live in Maria’s path.

9. Donate to Mercy Corps.

The Mercy Corps is a 501(c)3 that provides assistance around the world, including in regions affected by severe weather like Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

The Mercy Corps Humanitarian Response Fund is dedicated to helping Mercy Corps respond to “urgent humanitarian needs in over forty countries.”

The Mercy Corps Humanitarian Response Fund is specifically dedicated to relief from events like Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria.

Mercy Corps is trained and prepared for disaster relief, meaning your money is going to go to a nonprofit that knows how to best use it.

Visit the Humanitarian Response Fund’s donation page, pick a donation amount, fill out your contact info, and give. The process is that easy.

10. Rescue an Animal

Rescuing an animal from a dangerous situation can mean a few things. You could volunteer with the post-hurricane rescue effort.

You can send money to or raise money for a local shelter. You could even adopt or foster one of the animals.

When hurricanes strike, many pets like dogs and cats and horses end up lost, injured, or abandoned.

Luckily, animal rescue organizations and shelters will come to the assistance of animals affected by Hurricane Irma and help them to safety and hopefully safe homes.

First, find your local shelter or humane society. Reach out directly to them to see if they have any organized effort or way for you to get involved.

Look into everything from donating to fostering to adopting, if you’re able to.

11. Find Corporate Donors

Most large companies have a philanthropic arm. And many will be stepping up to help with the hurricane and flooding relief effort. They might have an opportunity for you to get involved and fundraise.

Companies and corporations can give the kind of funding to make a massive impact.

By working with companies to donate to hurricane relief, you’re increasing the funding and help you’re able to give.

Start with your own employer. See if they have a matching gift program and will match your donation.

If they don’t, look into locally-based companies and see how community members can get involved.

12. Volunteer Your Time

The relief effort following Irma and now Hurricane Maria is going to take years and years to complete.

When you see all the damage and destruction, it’s hard not to feel defeated. Volunteering is a great option for you if you want to get actively involved beyond donating.

Check out the National VOAD website (see the button below), to sign up to volunteer in the regions most heavily affected by the storms. 

After signing up, your information will be processed and the organization will reach out to you with how and when you can help. With volunteering, it is especially important that you go where you’re needed and don’t cause more harm than assistance.

This placement program will help you avoid any such issues.

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