Giving Back

When It Feels Like All News Is Bad News, Here's How to Help

by Team Fathom
Photo by sunyu / Unsplash.

Between fires, earthquakes, and man-made disasters, the news seems overwhelmingly dire. Experts say giving money is the most effective way to directly help those in need around the world. But to whom — and where, when, and how much? Charity Navigator is an excellent, unbiased, transparent resource for finding information about various charities and nonprofits. It's important to note that when tragedy strikes, relief is a marathon endeavor, not a sprint. More money and volunteers and resources are needed as time goes on.


The Scenario: The three wildfires currently raging across the state are some of the deadliest in CA's history. Unfortunately, this is what is now being referred to as "the new abnormal."

How You Can Help: California Fire Foundation allows firefighters to distribute pre-paid gift cards to people who need food, clothing, and medicine. The nonprofit Caring Choices, in Chico, has become a volunteer hub where people are called upon for all sorts of things, including caring for displaced animals and offering medical care. On the site, they want to, "remind folks that this is a marathon, not a sprint." They will need more volunteers as time goes by. Airbnb has activated its disaster program for Butte County, which allows members of the community to offer housing free of charge. Check out the link if you can offer housing or know someone in need of it.

Florida + The Carolinas

The Scenario: The southeastern United States was once again hit by terrible hurricanes in September and October. Florence dropped 30 inches of rain and wreaked $17 billion in damage to North Carolina; Michael, one of the fiercest storms in US history, lashed the Florida Panhandle with 155 mph winds, destroying Mexico Beach.

How You Can Help: As shelters are closing and people are moving back into their homes, the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina is delivering relief in 34 counties, providing not only food to restock pantries, but also cleaning supplies and basic hygiene items. The community of South Walton near Mexico Beach created Walton County Cares to help organize and mobilize recovery efforts and donations for residents and volunteers. International Relief Teams addresses crises caused by poverty and disaster around the world, and is currently providing meals, health kits, and respirator masks to victims of Hurricane Michael.


The Scenario: A massive relief effort is still underway after an earthquake and tsunami hit the city of Palu in late September. The UN is estimating that 1.6 million have been (or will be) impacted. Recovery is a long road ahead.

How You Can Help: One of the largest e-commerce sites in Indonesia, Tokopedia, is housing several credible donation channels (you can translate the page). Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) is providing logistical assistance — fleets of water tankers, multi-terrain vehicles, and 25 tons of emergency goods. Global Giving, which scores a 96 on Charity Navigator, is channeling funds to local organizations focused on longer-term recovery assistance for residents.


The Scenario: Years of political and civil unrest have yielded what could be considered the worst humanitarian crisis plaguing the world right now. (You've no doubt seen the devastating photos of sick Yemeni children.) It has been reported that half of the country's 22 million inhabitants are on the brink of starvation.

How You Can Help: Save the Children is on the ground in conflict areas, refurbishing health centers and hospitals, treating suffering kids, distributing rations, and providing clean water to families. Humanity & Inclusion is providing rehabilitation, devices, and psychosocial services to victims. Doctors Without Borders is doing the important work of giving care where infrastructure has been destroyed — to people who have no place left to go.

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We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.