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Responding to Wildfires in Northern CA

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Wildfires continue to burn in Northern California with at least 29 deaths reported, thousands forced to evacuate their homes and more than 3,500 buildings destroyed in an area covering more than 191,000 acres or an area close to the size of New York City. Statewide, 8,000 firefighters are working to contain the fires, the worst of which are in Mendocino, Napa and Sonoma counties. 

We are compiling a list of responses, news items, resources and programming for philanthropy in response to the destruction being left by both disasters. Please send additional suggestions to

Related Programming

Fires: Join Local Foundation Leaders and Experts for A First Hand Report
Join a webinar with leaders of the community foundations and disaster response experts to hear how they're doing, what they know so far, and what kind of support is most helpful at this stage of the emergency.

Co-Sponsors: Philanthropy California, League of California Community Foundations, Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Council on Foundations, and United Philanthropy Forum.

Our Members Respond

Northern California Grantmakers
NCG is tracking funder activity and community needs to the region.

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees
GCIR is compiling a list of local immigrant-serving and philanthropic organizations who are providing help in the region to the immigrant population impacted by the wildfires.

October 17 Webinar for Funders on California Wildfires
Northern California Grantmakers is presenting a webinar for funders on October 17, 10:30-11:30 am PT that will feature leaders of local community foundations and disaster response experts, to hear how they're doing, what they know so far, and what kind of support is most helpful at this stage of the emergency. Webinar co-sponsors include United Philanthropy Forum and Forum members Philanthropy California and League of California Community Foundations.

How Philanthropy Is Responding

Sonoma County Resilience Fund
Community Foundation Sonoma County has established the Fund to address the mid- to long-term needs of their community. 
Disaster Fund for Mendocino County
The Community Foundation of Mendocino County has established the Disaster Fund to provide disaster relief and recovery services in the aftermath of a natural disaster. 

Northern California Wildfires Relief
The Latino Community Foundation, is raising funds to support three local Latino nonprofit organizations-- North Bay Organizing Project, in Santa Rosa; La Luz Center, in Sonoma; and UpValley Family Centers in Calistoga –that are working to support families, farmworker communities and are coordinating regional resources for immediate and long-term needs.
Disaster Relief Fund
Napa Valley Community Foundation (NVCF) has activated a Disaster Relief Fund for fire victims. NVCF will also distribute immediate response grants to a targeted list of local nonprofits that were pre-approved to receive such grants following the 2014 earthquake. Grants will focus on organizations providing services such as medical care, counseling, temporary shelter and meals to the individuals and families affected by the fire. 

United Ways' Northern California Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund
This is a joint fund between the United Way of the Bay Area and United Way of the Wine Country. The goal of the United Ways' Northern California Wildfire Relief and Recovery Fund is to provide immediate and long-term recovery assistance to North Bay residents affected by the wildfires that have spread throughout the region.
United Way of the Wine Country
All gifts made through its website will be directed to area fire relief and recovery efforts until further notice.

Additional Resources

Best Practices in Disaster Grantmaking: Lessons from the Gulf Coast
Philanthropy New York shares disaster grantmaking best practices and strategies indentified by nonprofits, community foundations, and governmental agencies.

Creating Order From Chaos: Roles for Philanthropy in Disaster Planning and Response
The Jessie Ball duPont Fund published this guide in 2015 to outline the best roles for funders in a disaster, culled from its many decades of experience in responding to the needs of communities and nonprofits beset by disasters, human and natural alike. 

Disaster Philanthropy Playbook
A compilation of philanthropic strategies, best practices and lessons learned that helps communities think through how a disaster will affect them and plan and prepare to respond when it happens. It is centered on 15 strategies, including community and economic recovery; education; health and behavioral health; aging and disabled populations; arts and culture; environment; and others. The Disaster Philanthropy Playbook is a joint project of Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Council of New Jersey Grantmakers in association with United Philanthropy Forum. 

Disaster Preparedness to Promote Community Resilience: Information and Tools for Homeless Service Providers and Disaster Professionals
The Veterans Emergency Management Evaluation Center (VEMEC) within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has produced this toolkit to provide guidance for identifying and collaborating with partners to address disaster response and recovery needs of homeless individuals. It outlines strategies to engage in preparedness and minimize service disruption from a disaster. Furthermore, it specifies how to enhance the capacity of healthcare settings with providers experienced in serving people who are homeless, and provide expanded care following a disaster or public health emergency.

Disaster, Older Adults and Philanthropy
This article from Forum member Grantmakers in Aging details why disaster-related death rates are so much higher older adults and how philanthropy can help. 

Disaster Planning and Recovery for Nonprofits, Charities, and Libraries
The Resilient Organization, developed with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, is a holistic guide to IT disaster planning and recovery. This e-book is intended for organizations that are preparing for a disaster, as well as those that need to rebuild and maintain operations after a disaster.

The Long Haul: Lessons From Charitable Responses to Previous Disasters
Michael Seltzer, Baruch College Distinguished Lecturer and Director of The New York Community Trust Leadership Fellows program, gives six essential perspectives on disaster recovery. 

Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy: Data to Drive Decisions
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has partnered with Foundation Center on an interactive dashboard, which provides an analysis of disaster-related funding by foundations, governments, corporations and individuals. The data presented illuminates funding trends, exposes some of the imbalances in where and when contributions are made to help donors make more strategic decisions about their investments in the full life cycle of disasters, including preparedness and recovery efforts.

Disaster Recovery – What Donors and Nonprofits Need To Know
This resource from the National Council of Nonprofits is tailored for nonprofits and donors who are interested in responding to a disaster. It includes practical tips for making post-disaster donations and providing recovery assistance.