The Northern California fires hit close to home for me. I was born and raised there and have friends and family affected by the fires.
On a whim I shared a link to donate with the WTFam. Y’all helped raise more than $12k for Sonoma Valley Fire victims, evacuees, and first responders, which the Rotary of Sonoma Valley matched the first $10k of. Incredible.
The experience was humbling and made me realize that I could do a better job to support others in need following disasters. The default for many is to say “donate to the Red Cross,” which has been proven time and again to be a
poor use waste of money. But, I believe the WTF community can collectively source and verify the most impactful way of giving.
Below, I’ve compiled some of the best feedback I received from the community about how they might want to join together with other members to support people in shitty, unforeseen situations.
I’m proposing we could use this forum to organize around specific disasters and tragedies (note: I’m not saying causes or campaigns) to identify the best, most appropriate way of supporting victims.
To be clear, I don’t want WTFJHT to become an NGO and I don’t expect to make donating a central focus. But, I do think there’s a large contingent of the WTFam that cares about deeply about supporting those in need following tragic disasters and would be interested in organizing themselves on an ad hoc basis to do so.
Let me know what you think below and we’ll move this project forward. WTF is a large platform that reaches hundreds of thousands of people. We should use it, where appropriate, to make the world just a little bit better.
Your Feedback, Ideas, and Suggestions:
- I would love to “adopt a family” in need. –Lani
- I love the idea of making a bigger impact together. –Susan
- I always want to give money to people in need after natural disasters, but I never do because I get completely stymied about who the best organization would be. I never want to give to big orgs as I want all my dollars to go directly to the people. So, I’d welcome being part of a group who gave to a group that was well researched etc. –Joi
- I have found people want to help, but don’t always know how. I envision a “matching program” where 1 family is matched to another somewhere in the United States. The host family could do a needs assessment and ensure the needs of the family are met. Being linked to an actual family is personal, has accountability, and is tangible. –Brooke
- Knowing which agencies are best to receive donations is daunting. –Ann
- There are probably enough people to get together in some cities to physically volunteer in time of need. It also could be a place where we could give to local charities instead of national ones as people can verify legit organizations like you did for the fire victims. –Tammy
- I LOVE the idea of getting partners to match donations and having some kind of lending club. Maybe you could even highlight a weekly charity. –Shayna
- The biggest disaster and the biggest threat to our country is DJT. I make my voice heard by sending out postcards regularly to all Republican senators. –Judy
- Create a new newsletter [and grow] it into a full-fledged foundation. Every newsletter, profile a particular charity, what they’re doing, why it’s important, and how it helps, given some recent event. Attach a link for donations or information, and ideally have a partner willing to match. –Michael
- Set up something like what the Chive did - Chive Charity or Reddit with their Random Acts. –Ellen
- My biggest concern is when people give money to disaster funds how much of it actually makes it to help those in need. I would say partner with a charity that does this as its mission and vet it. Make sure that charity actually helps. –Catherine
- I have not donated anywhere yet because I’m unsure what is legitimate. I’m super picky about which organization will do the most good with a low ratio of admin costs. If you created a fund for the WTF community, I would definitely donate. –Laurel
- I’d encourage you to look up radical direct giving. A platform like yours could really make a huge difference in raising cash and other resources to put directly in people’s hands. – Dani
- Maybe we could gather ourselves and any interested friends wherever there are pressing situations or needs (like Las Vegas or California, for recent examples). We can work together to provide direct help – volunteering in whatever way we can. When there’s a crisis, those of us in the area could decide what action would be appropriate, put out a call on the FB group for help and ideas, then take action. –Bree
- Have a cause of the week, and one that we vote on for next week. So donate here for this, and vote for next week’s thing. –Mike
- Right after a disaster, sites like Charity Navigator and GuideStar often pull together lists of organizations that have proven track records and are launching relief/recovery efforts. Also, cash (and sometimes blood) are often the most helpful resources to donate; sending “stuff” can sometimes turn into a bigger burden. –Chris
- I’d personally love to see a focus on communities of color or marginalized communities which are disproportionally affected by disasters. I don’t trust the Red Cross and would prefer to see the publicity go to orgs that do not have a record of using raised funds for salaries and such. –Lily
- My usual reaction everyday is “damn wish I could do something about it”. I’m sure many other readers have similar reactions. My suggestion would be to focus on underexposed places we could pitch in. –Braeden
- I don’t want to send money to Red Cross as I think it doesn’t really get to the communities in a deeper and more meaningful way. I think smaller agencies equal better distribution of money and resources. So go small. –Anne
- I’ve been thinking a lot about how to help those in need AFTER the tragedy has passed the headlines and our awareness has moved on to the next thing. Maybe create a way to collect and donate to specific low-income areas that might be forgotten. –Lisa
- Can you create a nonprofit? A foundation would be able to channel all these donations and be a force for good. –Shannon
- Can an experienced volunteer look for matching funds? Having a standing set of other resources to tap when the emergency issues come up could make a huge difference in any fundraising campaign. People are always more inclined to give when they know their money will double. –Clare
- Focus on one cause per month. People can do whatever they can to help either locally or nationally. –Linda
- There is a lot of strength in local organizing… My idea is having some regional WTFJHT groups tackling some WTFJHT issues in their area. –Wendy
- Could you add a section at the very bottom of the email with “links to help”. Maybe one per week which you feature and discuss for the whole week. –Tai
- Maybe you could set up some kind of adoption / pen pal situation between the members of the wtfjht group? –Lilyan