Following the destruction in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands created by Hurricanes Irma and Maria, we, like many of you are asking ourselves: How can we support the communities who have been devastated by this natural disaster?
There are many amazing organizations that could use our support in this time to act locally supporting those in need by organizing resources and funds to help them expand capacity to do their work.
With destruction this intense, we can assume that recovery is going to take a long time, and a lot of support. We encourage you put a note in your calendar, one month, six months, and one year from now to find opportunities to support ongoing and essential recovery efforts.
Below are a compilation of national and local organizations giving direct aid to those directly affected by Hurricane Maria.
Please keep in mind as you organize support:
- Be a thoughtful supporter. Conduct your own research on these organizations and how they are responding to the disaster in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. What is their process of accountability to local communities? How do they spend the money they make? Charity Navigator is one tool you can use.
- During this time of natural disaster, the people most vulnerable in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands are ones who are the most vulnerable on a daily basis (individuals experiencing poverty, people of color, the elderly, undocumented immigrants, LGBTQ communities, and others experiencing institutional oppression).
- We urge you to give to organizations with strong ties to local communities and/or are led by local directly impacted communities. They will best understand the needs and how to address them.
- Give what you can, and know that as we all learn more about the situation, there might be additional opportunities to support Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, including upcoming volunteer opportunities. If at this moment in time you are not able to give resources or money, focus locally on supporting folks who are also experiencing oppression and adversity in your own communities.
- Donate money, gift cards, or specific items that are being asked by organizations on the ground.
If you organize or participate in volunteer trips, we suggest the following:
- Get training BEFORE you go.
- Ensure that your presence where you’ll be staying won’t displace residents and force them to find alternate housing, assuming it’s available
- If you have collected financial donations, consider whether it will be more impactful to bring those in cash.
- Review these suggestions on how to have the best possible health volunteer trip and the strongest impact.
Tips to Organize a Pop-Up Giving Circle
- Want to join together with your friends, family, neighbors, colleagues or teammates to help those affected by the hurricanes? Host a Pop-up Giving Circle! Ask everyone to contribute some funds, pool them, and then decide together how to give them away. You’ll make a much bigger impact than you could have on your own – and it’ll help everyone learn about what they can do to help. All it takes is 90 minutes – here’s an easy-to-use Facilitator’s Guide and Participant Workbook from our friends at Amplifier, and a great selection of relief organizations is below.
- If you do end up hosting a Pop-up Giving Circle, please let us know – we’d love to hear how it went and what organizations you chose to support. Any questions? Be in touch: [email protected] or [email protected]
Resources to Inform your Response:
- Tips for Jewish Parents on Responding to Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria
- “5 Tips for Donating After Disasters”, Pro Publica
- “How to Help Residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Recover After Hurricane Maria,” Colorlines
Articles about Hurricane Maria’s Impact on Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands:
- “Puerto Rico Is Getting Short-Term Aid,” Eleanor Cummins, Salon
- “In Battered Puerto Rico, Governor Warns of a Humanitarian Crisis,” Rances Robles, Lizette Alvarez, and Nicholas Fandos, The New York Times
- “One More Thing For Puerto Rico To Worry About: Disease-Ridden Mosquitoes,” Maggie Koerth-Baker, FiveThirtyEight
- “The Media Really Has Neglected Puerto Rico,” Dhrumil Mehta, FiveThirtyEight
Americares is a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing medicine, medical supplies and health programs. Donate to provide emergency medicine, supplies, and medical outreach as Americares responds to the urgent needs of people already devastated by Hurricane Irma who are now caught in Hurricane Maria’s destructive path.
Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA)is the official domestic relief agency of the U.S. Catholic Church. Your donation to CCUSA’s Disaster fund supports disaster response and recovery efforts including direct assistance, rebuilding, and health care services. 100% of funds raised are going to those affected.
Hispanic Federation has launched the UNIDOS Disaster Relief Fund to help meet hurricane and earthquake-related needs and recovery in Puerto Rico and Mexico. 100% of your gift to UNIDOS goes to help children, friends, and families recover from the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria and the Mexico City earthquake.
JFNA’s network of local and international partners serves Jewish community members and all in need quickly, effectively, and with personal care. They fund urgently-needed basics like food and medicine, and long-term needs like trauma counseling.One hundred percent of funds raised will be used to help those impacted by catastrophic flooding and damage caused by hurricanes in 2017.
The JDC is the world’s leading Jewish humanitarian aid organization. When you give to JDC’s Disaster Response efforts, you ensure they can continue search and rescue operations after the earthquake in Mexico — and you provide hygiene kits, safe drinking water, and psychosocial support to victims of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
ICNA Relief is working on coordinating efforts and preparing to dispatch human and financial resources to Puerto Rico and those affected by Hurricane Maria. ICNA Relief is well experienced in disaster relief, and has responded to over 51 disasters within the USA since 2001. ICNA Relief is a board member of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters (NVOAD.org).
Islamic Relief USA is a community of humanitarians–staff, volunteers, affiliates, supporters, partners, donors–who have been working together for a better world for nearly 25 years. People on the ground in Puerto Rico need water, food, generators and so much more. IRUSA is working with local partners on the ground to provide urgent aid.
Children and families in Puerto Rico are still reeling in the wake of Hurricane Maria’s devastating, direct hit. Save the Children’s relief experts are on the ground right now, doing whatever it takes to care for the most vulnerable in any emergency: children.
The purpose of this fund is to provide direct cash assistance to trans and queer Boricuas whose lives, homes and/or property have been impacted by Hurricane Maria. Funds raised will be given directly to trans and queer folks who request it. Funds may be used for anything from food and water to clothing, phones, medication/hormones, or whatever needs people self-identify. They seek to provide this support based on self-determination and an honor system.
This special fund will be used to aid their Synagogue and vulnerable communities in Puerto Rico.
100% of donations to this fund will go exclusively to long-term relief for the victims of catastrophic Hurricane María in Puerto Rico. This fund has been organized and is managed by the non-profit ConPRmetidos in partnership with Foundation for Puerto Rico, a 501(c)(3) corporation, which is acting as the fiscal sponsor.
The Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund will be housed at the Center for Popular Democracy (CPD). One hundred percent of monies raised will be used to support immediate relief, recovery, and equitable rebuilding in Puerto Rico for the communities hit hardest by the storm. The Fund is governed by organizations like Puerto Rico-based Taller Salud, the G8 of Caño Martín Peña, and other local, grassroots organizations.
Unidos Por Puerto Rico is an initiative created by the office of First Lady Beatriz Rosselló and a private sector group who joined forces to help those in Puerto Rico who lost their belongings during the Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
VOICES FOR PUERTO RICO (Voces por Puerto Rico) is a nationwide grassroots humanitarian and nonpartisan initiative by Puerto Rican artists and influencers residing in the US to support rural and/or disconnected local communities affected in Puerto Rico by natural disasters and economic challenges.
The U.S. Virgin Islands
Basketball player Tim Duncan was 13 years old when Hurricane Hugo ripped through his home town in the Virgin Islands, and had his life and community forever changed. He will match financial donations up to $1,000,000 for relief efforts in the US Virgin Islands. In addition, he is also hoping to raise an additional $1,000,000 through this ask in relief supplies for this area.
In light of the almost absolute devastation experienced in the US Virgin Islands, All Hands Volunteers has sent an Immediate Response Team to USVI, starting with St. Thomas. Given the massive health concerns created by the dwindling non-potable water supply, one of their first projects will be to clear paths to several natural springs so people without their own water source can flush and shower.
The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) is a regional inter-governmental agency for disaster management in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). Your donations will provide humanitarian support to the affected populations; purchase relief supplies; and support early recovery and rebuilding efforts in the impacted states.
In response to the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma, the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands (CFVI) has established two funds to collect and distribute monetary donations for the purposes of providing immediate relief and supporting long-term community renewal efforts.
Family Resource Center, Inc. (FRC) is a private non-profit agency incorporated in 1987 to establish a counseling program and a shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Our services began in 1986 with the opening of our emergency shelter for women and children. Since that time FRC has expanded its services to include all victims of violent crime and families in crisis.
The Women’s Coalition of St. Croix’s mission is to support and empower people impacted by violence. They offer assistance to women, children and men who are survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and other crimes.