August 10, 2023

How Donors Can Provide Disaster Relief to Those Affected by the August Fires in Hawaii

Author Joan Allmaras, Philanthropic Solutions Specialist

On August 9, fires swept through Maui and the Big Island, resulting in over 100 lives lost and forcing thousands of Hawaii residents to escape from their homes, some having no choice but to flee into the ocean. These fires were sparked because of powerful winds from Hurricane Dora, over 800 miles away in the Pacific Ocean, combined with dry vegetation and low humidity.

The large-scale destruction caused by these unprecedented wildfires has all but destroyed all the historic town of Lahaina, with homes and businesses completely lost to the flames. Donors around the world are wondering what they can do to support those directly affected by the fires.

Every disaster is different and Maui’s location makes getting supplies to the island particularly challenging. Local volunteers have been essential to distribute food, basic supplies and support families seeking shelter.

For those looking for ways to help, we have created a non-exhaustive list of disaster response organizations and local organizations actively engaged in aid efforts. Locally-based organizations who have roots in the community are essential to any response effort and will be there for the long-term recovery efforts.

When recommending a grant through your donor-advised fund, please indicate “Maui fires” as the purpose of your grant to ensure that the organization correctly designates your gift. We encourage donors to research all organizations prior to entering a grant recommendation.

Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (EIN 91-0313383)

The Council is a member-based organization that provides access to capital, financial education and individualized financial counseling services with a focus on low and moderate-income Native Hawaiian families. The organization launched a $250,000 matching fund to support Native Hawaiians impacted by the fires.

Hawai’i People’s Fund (EIN 23-7250803)

Maui Aloha: The People’s Response is a dedicated fund to support community organizers and grassroots organizations in response to the fires. Funding will be directed to both urgent needs as well as long-term recovery, particularly for populations that may not otherwise have access to aid or advocacy efforts, including incarcerated people, people living with disabilities and immigrant communities.

Mālama I Ke Ola Health Center (MIKOHC) (EIN 99-0303304)

The Lahaina community health clinic was destroyed in the fires. The organization is partnering with the Hawai‘i Department of Health and Hui No Ke Ola Pono (the Native Hawaiian Health System) to operate mobile clinics. Funds will be used for medical equipment and supplies as well as furniture and computers for staff.

Maui Humane Society (EIN 99-6000953)

Local Hawaiian news has reported on the thousands of animals that have been “lost, burned or in need of critical care” because of the tragedy. The organization is working to locate and care for pets and other animals impacted by the fires. They are also seeking foster homes for lost animals in their care.

Maui Food Bank (EIN 99-0315110)

The Maui Food Bank has established food and supplies collection and distribution sites in Central and South Maui. The organization is also partnering with Baby2Baby (EIN 46-4503539), which has sent essential supplies for newborns and families, including diapers and formula.

Maui Strong Fund at the Hawaii Community Foundation (EIN 99-0261283)

The Maui Strong Fund is focused on rapid response grantmaking to nonprofit organizations working on the frontlines to provide shelter, food, health services and financial assistance. The fund is supporting more than 50 local organizations, which are listed here.

Other Disaster Response Organizations

World Central Kitchen (EIN 27-3521132)

The organization’s Relief Team is partnering with local chefs and volunteers to prepare fresh meals and distribute water, as many sources of drinking water are unsafe in the aftermath of the fires. Founded by renowned chef José Andrés, the organization provides warm, healthy meals following crises.

The American Red Cross (EIN 53-0196605) is on the frontlines of response to fire to provide shelter to those who had to flee their homes. With any disaster, the American Red Cross also reminds everyone that blood donations are critical to healthcare systems that are treating those who are injured.

Maui United Way (EIN 99-0086524) launched the Maui Fire Disaster Relief Fund, which is offering emergency financial assistance of up to $1000 to eligible individuals impacted by the fires.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (EIN 45-5257937) established the Hawaii Wildfires Recovery Fund to assist with long-term recovery efforts on Maui and the Big Island and provides updates on overall relief efforts.

Learn more about how you can expand your disaster giving strategy by supporting organizations addressing long-term resiliency and consider these impactful disaster relief strategies in your relief-based giving.

About the Author

Joan Allmaras is a Philanthropic Solutions Specialist at NPT. She produces tailored, in-depth research on specific issues and geographic areas of interest to NPT’s donors. Ms. Allmaras holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of San Diego and a Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership from the University of Pennsylvania.