For forest-lovers like ourselves, watching the wildfires run rampant across California and the Pacific Northwest has been both painful and moving. Many of us find ourselves wondering how we can jump in and aid the relief efforts.
While there are many ways to help, there are also a few no-no’s that may end up causing more harm than good so we've put together a few charitable do’s and don’ts that will give your donations the most impact.
● Make unsolicited in-person donations, especially during COVID-19 and flu season. It’s good practice to call a charity beforehand to see when they are accepting donations in order to not overwhelm the organization and its helpers. When you schedule a drop-off, also be sure to ask what items they are most in need of to prevent offloading any unwanted items into their hands.
● Be afraid to ask for more information when asked to donate by urgent, high-pressure tactics requesting an immediate donation — usually cash — before you’ve had a chance to review the facts for yourself. Verify the organization’s legitimacy by asking for the legal name, address, and phone number, and research the charity — especially if you receive a call from an obscure organization. One easily accessible resource is the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, which also allows you to check that the nonprofit meets industry standards and accountability to make sure your gift is going to the right place.
● Limit yourself to monetary gifts. Although a financial donation is often the most preferred by a charity, the gift of time can be equally as valuable if you cannot donate as much as you would like. Many local nonprofits, like Caring Choices in California, need volunteers to call potential donors, help with fundraisers and events, care for displaced animals, or simply stuff letters for a day — no amount of time is too small!
● Make a monetary gift, if you are able. Monetary donations are often preferred by charities because it is the most flexible gift for them to utilize and can make the most tangible difference. Determine your capacity to give by planning ahead and examining your budget to help you determine how much you can reasonably afford to give. When you give your donation, be sure to use a check or credit card to avoid scams and have a paper trail for tax purposes.
● Open your home to displaced victims. The forest fires have left many homeless and uncertain where to turn. If you have the space or a spare room in your home consider listing it on Airbnb Open Homes where individuals and families can search for places to stay in their time of need.
● Support businesses like Fog & Tree that are donating funds to wildfire relief programs and spread the word! The forests that dot the West Coast have served as an endless inspiration to our brand so we feel absolutely compelled to help in any way we can. Join us in the fight now through October 31st, as Fog & Tree will be giving a portion of your purchase to the Wildfire Relief Fund. Treat yourself with a gift that gives back.
While it can be tempting to jump into action when you see the planet suffering, we hope this guide helps you make the most of your time and donations. Whether you decide to shop Fog & Tree, donate your time, or even open up your home, no act is too insignificant to have an impact.
Together we can make a difference for the future of our forests and planet.