Updated 10:09 AM EST on Friday, September 22nd.
Hurricane Irma hit Barbuda and Antigua, the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Florida, and ultimately Georgia and Alabama.
Now, merely days after Irma, Hurricane Maria is ripping through the Caribbean and battering many of the same islands that Irma did. As of now, Hurricane Maria has slammed into Dominica as a Category 5. The storm continued from Dominica, and made landfall in Puerto Rico as a Category 4. The damage in Puerto Rico is yet to be fully assessed, but the video and photographic documentation is very disturbing, and the island is reporting that it is 100% without electricity and that there has been severe flooding.
Next in Maria’s path are Turks & Caicos as well as parts of the Bahamas. Even though the storm has dropped down to a Category 3, it is still extremely powerful and dangerous.
The people in these regions need our help. Whether we’re providing aid to victims of Irma or sending money to those harmed by Maria, or likely folks who have been tragically in both storms’ paths, it’s important that we step up as an online community and help those who need us most.
While the damage to many individuals, homes, and business has been devastating, we can help those affected by this great tragedy. If you’re looking to raise money to help the victims or you’d like to send money to offer your support, we’ve compiled a list of the best and most effective ways to get involved and support the Hurricane Maria relief efforts (as well as Hurricane Irma).
8 Ways to Donate to and Raise Money for Hurricane Maria Victims and Relief Efforts
- Launch your own fundraiser.
- Support a crowdfunding campaign.
- Help with the rebuilding effort.
- See if your company will match your gift (Use our tool to check!).
- Donate to a disaster-relief nonprofit.
- Contribute to a company matching all donations. (GREAT OPTION!)
- Volunteer in the impacted areas in the weeks and months to come.
- Receive shelter training and give your time.
1. Launch your own fundraiser.
While it might sound intimidating, starting your own crowdfunding campaign is actually quite easy.
The steps are as follows:
a. Pick a platform (we recommend Fundly).
b. Create your campaign.
c. Set a goal.
d. Fill out the description and other campaign details.
e. Promote the fundraiser on social media and by email to friends and family members.
f. Collect donations.
If you really want your campaign to stand out, you’ll need to ensure it has high-quality images, a compelling description, and is shared on social media a lot!
Crowdfunding is an effective fundraising option for Hurricane Maria relief in particular, because it is quick, efficient, and global. With the right campaign, you could raise thousands of dollars from a diverse array of donors, all looking to help support the Hurricane Maria relief effort.
Of course, as an individual fundraiser, you’ll want to be sure to pick out a worthy and qualified nonprofit to transfer the funds to. And you need to communicate your plan to potential donors.
You should be upfront and transparent about how you plan on allocating their donations. That way, your supporters can be confident that giving to your crowdfunding campaign will have the impact that they want it to.
With the right mix of crowdfunding campaign best practices and timing, your campaign could go a long way toward helping the very deserving survivors of this terrible disaster.
Next step: Click to start a campaign right now.
2. Support a crowdfunding campaign.
We recognize that organizing and running a crowdfunding campaign isn’t for everyone. Some folks don’t have the web presence for it, while others aren’t comfortable asking for donations.
That’s okay! Luckily, if you don’t want to run a campaign but you do want to support one, there are plenty of opportunities for you to contribute to a crowdfunding campaign, such as the one we’re running:
Beyond the campaign pictured above, for this search, you’ll want to visit your main social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and see if any of your immediate contacts are running a campaign. If so, review their campaign goals and details and decide if you’d like to contribute to their work.
If you don’t find a campaign through your own organic network, visit a crowdfunding platform directly and search for related campaigns on the website.
For example, when looking for Hurricane Maria relief funds to contribute to, you might want to:
- See if the crowdfunding website has a disaster relief category.
- Look for a special category for Hurricane Maria relief.
- Type “hurricane” or “hurricane maria” into the search bar.
With minimal digging, you should be able to find a number of campaigns to peruse.
Just be careful to properly vet any crowdfunding campaign that you’re considering. Make sure the campaign is legitimate and the funds are going directly to Hurricane Maria victims and relief efforts.
You can check legitimacy by doing a little digging into the campaign organizer. For instance, did they verify their account with a social media account? Do they have a pre-existing web presence?
Once you’ve properly vetted the campaign and organizer, all that’s left to do is make a donation and support the recovery effort.
3. Help with the rebuilding effort.
After any hurricane, especially one like Irma that’s a record-breaking Category 5, there’s always heaps and heaps of destruction. From homes to schools to offices to government buildings, not many structures can withstand 185-mph winds.
The regions affected by Irma and Maria are going to need our help in rebuilding their communities. That’s where organizations like Habitat for Humanity come into the equation.
You can donate to Habitat for Humanity or any Irma-specific or Maria-specific campaigns run by Habitat for Humanity and use your money to help kick-start the rebuilding process. To donate, head over to and explore this page:
By donating to Habitat for Humanity, you’ll join the over 76,000 donors who have helped the organization raise $14,074,690 for its global volunteering program so far.
4. Make sure your gifts are matched.
According to the guide to matching gifts, “Employee matching gifts are donations a company makes to match its employees’ charitable contributions. Employee matching gifts are typically at a dollar-for-dollar rate but some companies go even further by tripling or quadrupling their employees’ donations.”
Essentially, if you work at a company with an employee gift matching program and you’ve donated to a nonprofit in support of Hurricane Maria relief, you might be able to get that gift doubled.
At Double the Donation we build and maintain a database of companies that match donations along with the forms, guidelines, and steps you should take to submit your match. Across our database, 15-19 million individuals work for companies with matching gift programs.
And for Hurricane Maria Relief we’re making our database available for FREE.
Go ahead and use our matching gift tools below. Just type in your employer (ex. Home Depot, Verizon, Microsoft, etc.) to see if your company offers a matching gift program and to access forms, guidelines, and instructions.
Or if you want to view a list of the top matching gift companies click here.
Additionally, outside the scope of corporate gift matching, during such times of crisis, it is quite common for large donors and/or companies to pledge to match donations made to specific nonprofits.
For instance, a major company might offer to match any donation under $100 made to the Red Cross over a 24-hour period.
Whether its through your own company or a one-time matching opportunity, you owe it to the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria relief effort to see if you can get your gift matched.
Next step: Search for matching gift companies with the above search tool. Then Link to this page (https://doublethedonation.com/blog/2017/09/donate-support-hurricane-irma-victims/) from your website or social media to share this matching gift information with other supporters.
5. Donate to a disaster-relief nonprofit.
When you want to help but you’re not sure what the best course of action is, often its best to trust the experts.
In this case, trusting the experts means turning to major nonprofit organizations that have experience and/or a specialization in disaster relief.
In most instances, those organizations are going to ask that you send in financial contributions for them to decide how to allocate. They have staff and volunteers working in the regions affected by Hurricane Maria, and they can best assess to where and to what your funding should go towards.
Nonprofits that fit this categorization include:
For example, Mercy Corps even has a dedicated humanitarian response fund for situations like Maria (pictured below):
You can also always choose to give to a regional organization as well. For those nonprofits, look into local hospitals and food banks as a starting point.
6. Donate to a company that’s matching all donations.
During Hurricane Harvey we saw companies like Apple, Amazon, Walmart, Facebook, and countless others offer to match donations. And now there have been a variety of companies offering to match donations to disaster relief efforts for Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria, and Mexico’s Earthquake.
For example, about 30 minutes ago (this update was written on Friday, September 22nd at 2:35 pm EST), Philips Lighting Foundation launched a fundraiser where they’re matching donations!
We expect Philips Lighting Foundation’s fundraiser to be wildly successful. You can contribute financially by going to https://fundly.com/philips-lighting-foundation-hurricane-relief and you can also share the fundraiser on Facebook or Twitter directly from the same page.
There are also a variety of smaller employers who have matching programs right now for relief efforts for Harvey, Irma, and Maria.
- The McShane Company is matching up $50,000 (here’s the fundraiser)
- PacSun is matching up to $25,000 (here’s the fundraiser)
- Associated Credit Union is matching up to $25,000 (here’s the fundraiser)
- Index Festival of Houston is matching up to $5,000 (here’s the fundraiser)
- W. Bradford & Co is matching up to $2,5000 (here’s the fundraiser)
These fundraisers are an excellent way to make your donation go twice as far. If you see another company with a matching gift program feel free to add it in the comments and we’ll look into the program and update our list.
7. Consider volunteering in the months to come.
Hurricane Irma has caused severe damage to the Caribbean Islands and Florida, both of which will need assistance for years to come to fully recover. It’s yet to be seen how much damage Maria will cause, but we know that Hurricane Maria has the potential to both damage areas that Irma passed by and double down on areas that Irma already collided with.
For those of you who would like to volunteer in the impacted regions we recommend that you do not self-deploy immediately as it can create an additional burden for first responders. We recommend that you consider signing up to volunteer with an established organization in the coming months, after the storms fall out of the media cycle and the long rebuilding phase is underway.
We encourage you to look into National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) which helps facilitate volunteer engagements with leading aid organizations. They’re currently accepting volunteers for the following regions:
- US Virgin Island Volunteer Relief Efforts
- Puerto Rico Volunteer Relief Efforts
- Florida Volunteer Relief Efforts
8. Receive shelter training and give your time.
The damage from Hurricane Irma has forced many, many people out of their homes and into make-shift shelters. Those living in the shelters desperately need our help. If you have the time and ability to do so, you should consider getting certified in shelter volunteering and registering to help staff one of the pop-up shelters.
Of course, as with our previous advice around volunteering, you need to make sure you’re going where you’re needed and not where you might be an additional responsibility of first-responders. So, begin by getting the proper training and certification, then apply to volunteer through the appropriate channels, and go from there.
If you’re based in the U.S., the location with the most immediate need is going to be Florida, especially the southern half of the state. If you visit the Volunteer Florida site, they can direct you to any relevant links for training (as shown below).
As you can see, they have dedicated links and information to help those interested in training and proactively joining the volunteer effort.
Next step: Find a shelter operations training course.
There you have it. Eight ways you can get involved in raising money for the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria relief effort.
This hurricane season has already been absolutely devastating, but it is always inspiring to see communities come together in times of such great tragedy to help those in need.
The funds raised for Hurricane Harvey were truly awe-inducing, and the victims of Hurricane Irma’s and Hurricane Maria’s destruction are going to need that kind of support as well. It is encouraging to see the philanthropic efforts already in motion, even in the early days of Maria’s path.