At least 36 people are dead after a fire broke out in a converted warehouse in Oakland, Calif., Friday night, with more casualties all but certain. If you’d like to help the victims of the fire and their families, here’s how.
Typically Money recommends not giving donations to organizations that are not properly vetted on websites like Charity Navigator. But the proliferation of crowd-funding sites has made it possible for reputable organizations and charities to quickly solicit and collect donations in the immediate aftermath of tragedies — such as after the Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando –and to disperse them with transparency. As always, however, you should be aware that scammers will try to take advantage of your generosity in these situations.
In Oakland, local sports teams have taken a lead in early responses to the disaster. Both the Oakland A’s and the Oakland Raiders have vowed to match up to $50,000 in donations to a YouCaring fundraising campaign set up by the A’s. (The Golden State Warriors have donated $50,000 to the Unity Council, a nonprofit community center in Oakland, whose website notes that it will pass donations along to the local Red Cross chapter.)
The Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, a local arts nonprofit, set up a YouCaring campaign shortly after the fire was reported. It has raised over $200,000 as of Monday morning. Josette Melchor, the foundation’s executive director, writes that the funds would be used to cover medical bills for survivors and funeral services for the deceased. Melchor noted the foundation is “forming an oversight committee, talking with Oakland authorities, and will be sure the funds are allocated appropriately to fire victims and with due diligence.” The foundation also promises to publicly disclose how the funds are dispersed.
Money has reached out to the organizers of both YouCaring campaigns and the Unity Council about their fundraising efforts, and will update when we hear back from them.
According to NBC Bay Area, the American Red Cross and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office have set up a family assistance center, where grief counselors will be available. You can donate to the Red Cross on its website, and stipulate that your funds be used for assistance related to the fire. Additionally, consider donating to the Oakland Fire Department.