Wildfires are increasing with climate change, and wildfire season is getting longer. In the Western US, the number of annual wildfires larger than 1,000 acres has nearly doubled since 1980, and fire season now lasts seven months. Most recently, unprecedented fires burned large swaths of Northern California, attacking not just sparsely populated areas but many cities and towns.
If a house fire strikes your friends or family, it can not only damage or destroy their property but also leave them feeling powerless and vulnerable. It can also leave you wondering how to help.
Crowdfunding raises both funds and people’s spirits
Along with raising the funds needed for recovery, a crowdfunding fundraiser also creates a venue for friends and family to post words of encouragement and support—which can be just as valuable.
If you’re thinking about running a crowdfunding fundraiser for the victim of a house fire, you’ve come to the right place. People use our free crowdfunding platform to raise money in similar circumstances every day.
If you want to give a friend or loved one help after a house fire, start with any of these five steps:
1. Send love and take action
The first step to take in supporting a family affected by a house fire is to let them know you’re there for them and will support them in whatever way you can through this crisis. A house fire leaves people shocked and unsure about what to do next. Asking what you can do to help may be more than they can deal with. It’s likely more helpful to make your own assessment of the situation and assign yourself a task, such as bringing them basic necessities or helping them find temporary housing. Don’t wait for them to impose on you—take action.
2. Send money
In a house fire, people sometimes lose everything—all the material possessions they’ve accumulated over a lifetime. There’s little chance they could simply replace it all, but even replacing the basics will require a huge lump sum. Sending money in any amount is a simple way to help after a house fire (ask which money delivery method is best for them). If you have the means, offer whatever financial support you can to keep them afloat while they wait for a check from their insurance company.
3. Bring a meal or buy groceries
It may be some time before they have refrigeration or a working kitchen. Depending on the situation, ask neighbors and others in your community to bring meals or non-perishable groceries.
4. Organize a clothing drive
Obviously, the clothing needs to fit the people in need—ask them for their clothing sizes, pass those along to anyone willing to donate clothes, and know that anything you deliver will make a positive difference. For reference, see SF Gate’s list of things a family needs after a house fire.
5. Launch a fundraiser
You can pair any of the four ideas above with a free fundraiser. Remember, the victims of the fire are overwhelmed already. Take the work off their shoulders and start a fundraiser for them, encouraging people to donate and to share the page with their own social networks. Optionally, you could also reach out to a local news organization to cover the story.
Examples of crowdfunding for fire relief
Take a look at the following fire-related fundraisers on GoFundMe. Find a successful fundraiser that’s similar to the one you want to run and use it as a model.
Hundreds of people in the US and around the world have gotten help on GoFundMe after major wildfires, including these specific fires:
- Southern California wildfires
- Tathra, Australia bushfires
- Oklahoma wildfires
- Northern California wildfires
Examples of fire-related crowdfunding fundraisers for specific individuals or groups:
Napa and Sonoma County Fire Relief: Started by Jake Kloberdanz, a Napa resident and a vineyard/winery owner, this fundraiser brought in more than $600,000 in the wake of the devastating wildfires that tore through Napa and Sonoma counties in 2017. The funds went to a variety of local organizations that provided direct relief to fire victims.
Osman’s Fire Relief: After the Thomas Fire in Ventura destroyed his friend’s home and all of their belongings, David Wilner started this fundraiser to help them rebuild their lives. David rallied nearly 10,000 donors to give more than $170,000 total to help the Osman family in their time of need.
Tathra fire victim fund for Julie K: Gina’s mother Julie was away from her home when the Tathra bushfires hit and ended up destroying her house and all of her possessions, including her original art. To help her mom after this disaster, Gina raised more than $21,000 from friends and family.
Help autism school rise from ashes: The Anova Center for Education, Sonoma County’s only nonprofit school for children living with autism, was destroyed by wildfire. Community members rallied around this beloved school, and they raised more than $180,000 to help rebuild.
Reptacular Animals Ranch Fire Fund: Wildfires can devastate all living things, including our animal friends. While no animals were hurt in the wildfires, all of the enclosures and houses at this animal ranch were destroyed. Organizers raised $45,000 to help the Reptacular Animals Ranch rebuild.
Start a fire relief fundraiser