The best way to help whenever a disaster strikes at home or abroad is to donate money to reputable, established charities and funds.
Clean-up and rebuilding takes months of effort, and sometimes years. Every dollar you donate to well-established aid organizations will go toward relief efforts. Experts say whatever you do, don’t donate anything but money.
All In Seattle is a coalition of like-minded community members who, like you, want to help our neighbors through the COVID-19 pandemic. Since their launch on March 23, they’ve raised over $30 million to contribute directly to non-profits already supporting communities in the Puget Sound Region. Give what you can afford, whether it’s $5 or $500. The need in our region will be staggering for some time to come. Every dollar matters. Some of the individual organizations are listed later in this list, or donate through All in Seattle and choose from any of several food assistance organizations in the greater Seattle-Tacoma metro area.
The Plate Fund is providing immediate financial assistance to thousands of restaurant-industry workers who have been hardest-hit in King County. The need is enormous. More than 100,000 people were employed at some 5,000 food establishments in King County. Thousands of restaurants have suspended operations, closed and let go a majority of their staff. A vast majority of line cooks, wait staff, dishwashers, and other employees rely on every paycheck, as well as tips, to support themselves and their families. They need to pay for necessities like food, transportation, baby products and medicine now. The Plate Fund provides immediate, one-time payments of $500 to the most impacted workers. For many, these payments can help “bridge the gap” between the time they received their last paychecks and when they can access federal stimulus payments and/or unemployment insurance benefits. Restaurants, bars and cafes are the connective tissue in our communities, nourishing all of us and helping to keep our neighborhoods vibrant. Now they need us. Please, donate what you can, whether it’s the cost of a cup of coffee, a dinner out, a month of meals. It’s our turn to serve. Help them reach more workers.
Chinatown International District (CID) Restaurants and other Small Businesses Relief Fund. The CID is home to over 400 small businesses, including 140 restaurants, which have seen a severe decline in business since early February. The funds will give direct dollars to small businesses in the CID to help them mitigate the impacts of this pandemic. 100% of the funds go directly to small businesses.
Artists and Arts organizations
The coronavirus pandemic has presented a special challenges for all businesses and organizations. The closure of non-essential businesses and cancellation events everyone has hard hit. The economic challenges are enormous. If you are wondering how you might help, we’ve put together a list of of place accepting donations to help businesses and organizations across the state of Washington. Every bit helps. Do what you can.
Artist Trust’s COVID-19 Relief Fund will allow Artist Trust to support Washington State artists throughout the coronavirus crisis, with cash grants, resources, and more to sustain their work during this critical time.
COVID-19 Arts Emergency Relief Fund created by the ArtsFund to provide grants for arts organizations to enable them to maintain essential functions and a core staff throughout the current public health crisis so that they are positioned to reopen when possible.
Seattle Artist Relief Fund Amid COVID-19. This is emergency fund helps artists in need with rent, food, utilities, and medical needs. They are halfway to their $1 Million dollar goal. 100% of these funds will go to artists who have lost income due to cancellations and work stoppage due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
WA Food Fund will provide direct financial assistance to three organizations that supply food to every food bank in Washington: Second Harvest, Food Lifeline, and Northwest Harvest. The money will go toward food, materials, and personal protective equipment, as well as delivery and distribution costs. The fund is being managed by the Philanthropy Northwest network. An estimated 1.6 million Washingtonians are at risk of not having enough food to eat, double the number of people than before the virus outbreak. And the need is expected to increase, while donations to food banks are also down by 70 percent. Everyone please contribute what you can to keep food on everyone’s table across the state.
Northwest Harvest is Washington State’s hunger relief agency supporting a statewide network of 375 food banks, meal programs and high-need schools. Focused on improving equity in our food system, their mission is to lead the fight for access to nutritious food and end hunger in Washington State. Donate online; if you wish, direct your donation to the COVID-19 Hunger Response Fund to bring emergency food to new locations that are safe and convenient for people to access. Their goal is $8 million dollars.
- Volunteer with Northwest Harvest. You can help by sorting and packing food at warehouses in Kent, Yakima, and Spokane; helping guests at the Seattle SODO Community Market; or assisting Northwest Harvest staff at special events. Whether it’s once a week, once a month or once in a while, your time makes a great contribution.
- Advocate for public policies that 1) promote access to nutritious food, 2) help low-income people meet their basic need, and 3) support budgets that restore our basic safety net with fair and sustainable revenue.
Feeding America is the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, connecting people with food to end hunger. They are the backbone of the food bank system across the country. There are several ways to help:
- Virtual volunteer. Local food banks might have at home volunteer opportunities. For example, making donor thank-you calls or writing thank-you notes. Your children can help with thank you notes–ask them to decorate the cards by drawing their favorite type of fruit or vegetable, or have older children write notes as well. Note-writing or calling donors not your thing? Some might need volunteer help performing administrative work which can be done online, such as data entry or monitoring and responding to basic email inquiries. Ask your local food bank about at home volunteer opportunities.
- Delivery driver. Local food banks might need volunteers to make contactless emergency food deliveries to seniors and other homebound people. Volunteers simply leave the box at the client’s door. Ask your local food bank about delivery volunteer opportunities.
- Donate money. Donating money is one of the most efficient ways to support our neighbors struggling with hunger during the pandemic.
- Raise money online. Start a virtual fundraiser or Facebook fundraiser, and on the next family FaceTime call, strike up some friendly competition by encouraging your loved ones to donate and share with their friends. Come up with some silly “prizes” to incentivize participation, like offering a special remote karaoke performance to the winning team (or losing team, depending on your singing skills) or have a pizza delivered to the family who donates the most.
- Spread the word on social media. Add the Feeding America profile frame to your Facebook profile picture to not only show your support, but to remind all your friends that food banks are on the front lines of the pandemic. Follow your local food bank on social media and share their posts to help spread the word. Share this blog post about volunteer and donation opportunities with your social media friends.
Farms and Farmland
Farm Relief Fund (FRF), a program of the Seattle Farmers Market Association, is dedicated to supporting Washington State farms, organic certification, and sustainable agriculture. They do this through neighborhood Farmers Markets, fundraising efforts, educational programs, and emergency assistance. The FRF provides assistance to farms hit by any of the many disasters to agriculture including: fire, floods, drought, predators, extreme weather, pandemics, and other emergencies that disrupt farm production. They have a goal to hit $50,000 by the end of 2020. Donate to FRF to to directly support our farmers. All donations are tax-deductible.
PCC Farmland Trust is a nonprofit working to protect threatened farmland in Washington State by keeping the land accessible to future generations of farmers for food production. They rely primarily on individual donations to fund their farmland preservation efforts. Another great way to do your part to keep Washington farmland healthy is to volunteer with PCC Farmland Trust. You can help restore habitat, host an event on one of their “forever farms”, or work out in the community talking to people about the importance of local, sustainable agriculture.
Other local donations for COVID Relief
Here are a variety of other organizations accepting donations in support of COVID-19 relief efforts.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of King County provides childcare and programming for school age children of first responders and essential employees during the coronavirus crisis.
- Boys & Girls Clubs of Washington COVID-19 Response. Serving more than 76,000 Washington State kids & teens.
- Charity Navigator recommended coronavirus charities. A number of highly-rated charities have created funds to support communities affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in the U.S. and around the globe.
- MultiCare COVID-19 Response Fund supports caregivers in the nonprofit health care organization to help address emergent needs. Multicare serves Tacoma, the South Sound and locations across Washington State.
- Real Change Vendor Relief Fund supports newspaper vendors who have been affected by loss of income due to coronavirus. The Real Change street newspaper provides economic opportunity for people who are low-income and homeless.
- Pierce County Connected: COVID-19 Response Fund. The impact of the current pandemic reveals where social systems are not supporting critical needs. To support urgent human service needs, United Way of Pierce County and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation partnered to launch this aligned philanthropic response.
- Seattle Foundation COVID-19 Response Fund provides resources to community-based organizations that are supporting local workers and families most affected by the coronavirus crisis through grants to nonprofits that are working on the frontlines to provide our region’s most vulnerable communities with emergency assistance.
- Seattle Sounders FC Relief Fund supports individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits located in the neighborhoods surrounding CenturyLink Field that have been adversely impacted by the postponement of the 2020 MLS season due to COVID-19. These neighborhoods include SODO, Pioneer Square, and Chinatown-International District.
- Treehouse supports youth in foster care across Washington state. They are adjusting existing programs to fund immediate needs, including rent assistance for young adults living independently, laptops, and cell phones as many students adapt to online school. The Treehouse Store is not accepting clothing, toys and other material donations at this time. If you would like to assist, financial gifts are very welcome.
- United Way Global Response to COVID-19. Or, donate directly to a United Way organization in the Puget Sound region:
- United Way of King County in Seattle, WA
- United Way of Kitsap County in Bremerton, WA
- United Way of Pierce County in Tacoma, WA
- United Way of San Juan County in Friday Harbor, WA
- United Way of Skagit County in Snohomish, WA
- United Way of Snohomish County in Everett, WA
- United Way of Thurston County in Olympia, WA
- Ventures Coronavirus Response. The nonprofit, Seattle-based Ventures provides business training, capital, and coaching to entrepreneurs, with a focus on women, people of color, immigrants, and individuals with low incomes. Ventures is raising money to supply grants to its clients who have been affected by the coronavirus crisis.
- Woodland Park Zoo Relief. While the zoo is closed, hundreds of animals still need food and care all the time.
Other Recommended Disaster Relief Organizations
Following is our suggested list of organizations who regularly respond in disaster and relief situations, are best equipped to assist those in need, and highly rated by Charity Navigator (4 stars) for accountability and transparency.
Above all, beware of charity frauds that claim to be raising money in any disaster. Before you donate your hard earned money to a scammer, read FBI Tips on Avoiding Charity Fraud or check that the agency is top-rated by Charity Navigator, an independent charity rating group. Especially be aware of organizations with similar sounding names to well-established, highly rated ones. If you have any doubt, you can donate to a charity directly from a link on Charity Navigator.
Under no circumstances should you mail care packages, toys, food, or clothes. Donating goods often become a burden. A system is required to accept, manage, sort, warehouse and distribute supplies that often aren’t things people need. The only exception is when a credible organization requests specific supplies and is already set up to receive them. That’s why cash is preferred…always useful, no matter the situation or need.
Under no circumstances should you travel to an affected area to “help”. Another problem occurs when well-meaning individuals head to a disaster area to assist in recovery. Disaster areas request that individuals do not “self-deploy” and arrive alone. Only work through an established relief organization. Volunteers who self-deploy often find they lack resources and are unable to help, and many end up requiring rescue themselves, placing further burden on an already ravaged area.
Puerto Rico Disaster Relief
Relief organizations listed below who are continuing to provide ongoing humanitarian support following the 2017 Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico include Direct Relief, Global Giving, and Water Mission.
Charity Navigator maintains a list of agencies providing Relief for Puerto Rico and Areas Impacted by Hurricane Maria.
Emergency Service Relief Organizations
Aga Khan Foundation is committed to breaking the cycle of poverty. While inspired by the values of Islam – particularly consultation, solidarity with those less fortunate, self-reliance and human dignity – the Foundation is not a religious organization and represents all religions and persuasions. They are driven by the belief that when all people – regardless of faith, origin or gender – live and work side by side to improve their communities, the fabric of society is stronger.
American Jewish World Service is dedicated solely to ending poverty and promoting human rights in the developing world. Through philanthropy and advocacy, they’ve addressed some of the gravest global problems of our time—genocide, AIDS, violence against women and girls, hatred of LGBT people, and the horrific consequences of natural and human-made disasters.
AmeriCares is a global health and emergency response organization. They can quickly dispatch local emergency response teams from their offices worldwide with shipments of medical aid and relief supplies for those affected.
Baitulmaal works to alleviate poverty, restore hope and dignity through emergency relief and long-term sustainable development in health, education, and community empowerment.
Catholic Relief Services maintains field offices worldwide to provide emergency relief materials such as tarpaulins/shelter kits, water, sanitation and hygiene material.
Global Giving is the first and largest global crowdfunding community that connects vetted nonprofits, donors, and companies in nearly every country around the world. They help local nonprofits access the funding, tools, training, and support they need to become more effective.
Helping Hand for Relief And Development is a global humanitarian relief and development organization responding to human sufferings in emergency and disaster situations around the world regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, class, location, religion, color, cultural diversity and social background, with a special focus in countries where the majority of the population lives below the poverty line. In addition to emergency relief efforts in natural or man-made disasters, they also work on long term relief and development programs.
ICNA Relief USA seeks to alleviate human suffering by providing caring and compassionate service to victims of adversities and survivors of disasters. ICNA Relief USA strives to build healthy communities, strengthen families and create opportunities for those in despair while maintaining dignity and advocating for basic human needs.
International Rescue Committee (IRC) responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises, helping to restore health, safety, education, economic wellbeing, and power to people devastated by conflict and disaster. IRC is governed by a volunteer, unpaid board of directors. IRC teams provide health care, infrastructure, learning and economic support to people in more than 40 countries, with special programs designed for women and children. They resettle thousands of refugees each year in 26 U.S. cities.
Water Mission is a nonprofit Christian organization that designs, builds and implements safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) solutions for people in developing countries and disaster areas, using innovative technology and engineering expertise.
World Relief (as originated within the National Association of Evangelicals) focuses on disaster response, health and child development, refugee and immigration services, economic development and peacebuilding, working holistically with the local church to stand for the sick, the widowed, the orphaned, the alienated, the displaced, the devastated, the marginalized and the disenfranchised.
Zakat Foundation of America is an international charity organization that helps generous and caring people reach out to those in need. Their goal is to address immediate needs and ensure the self-reliance of the poorest people around the world. They believe that those whom God has granted wealth need to cleanse that wealth through charity, and those whom God has tried with loss are accorded a rightful share from the resources of the affluent.
Crisis Services for Children and Families
Action Against Hunger USA is a global organization that takes decisive action against the causes and effects of hunger, saving the lives of malnourished children and ensuring everyone access to clean water, food, training, and healthcare.
Crisis Aid International concentrates efforts in East Africa and the United States serving children and families who are in crisis situations. Whether it be famine, disease, natural disaster, or sex trafficking, Crisis Aid is there to assist in sustaining life, bring encouragement to those suffering and collaborate with other relief organizations in bringing necessary foods, materials and medicines to people in times of crisis, particularly where life and death situations exist.
First Book creates equal access to quality education affordable – everything from brand new, high-quality books and educational resources, to sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more – for its member network of more than 375,000 educators who exclusively serve kids in need. It is the largest and fastest-growing network of educators in the United States exclusively serving kids in need.
Focus Humanitarian Assistance (FOCUS) is an International crisis response and disaster risk management agency, providing relief and assistance following natural disasters, as well as resettlement programs for displaced families and extended relief and recovery support for communities living in vulnerable environments.
Hispanic Federation works with over 100 Latino health and human services agencies to promote the social, political and economic well-being of the Latino community in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, the environment and disaster relief. With offices in New York, Washington D.C., Connecticut and Florida, and a nonprofit footprint throughout the East Coast, HF uplifts millions of Hispanic children, youth and families locally and nationally.
International Relief Teams (IRT) provides health services and humanitarian assistance to victims of disaster, neglect, and profound poverty worldwide. During disasters, IRT chooses appropriate responses to leverage donor resources to their highest effectiveness, including deploying medical and reconstruction teams, providing relief supplies, or financing the restoration of livelihoods and infrastructure.
Medical Care Relief Organizations
Direct Relief is a nonprofit that specializes in providing international medical assistance. It coordinates with local partners to focus relief efforts where the need is greatest.
Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) helps people worldwide where the need is greatest, delivering emergency medical aid to people affected by conflict, epidemics, disasters or exclusion from health care. The organization was started by French doctors and its first office was in Paris, but there are now branch offices around the world.
Pathfinder International maintains the right of women and families to have access to contraception and quality reproductive health care in remote locations, under the most difficult conditions, serving the most vulnerable people. They collaborate with governments, NGOs, and community- and faith-based organizations to ensure safe childbirth, healthy families, HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, reproductive health, and family planning programs.
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