A List of Charities to Support the Maui Wildfires

Maciej Grzymkowski Maciej Grzymkowski

A List of Charities to Support the Maui Wildfires

The deadliest U.S. wildfire for more than a century swept through parts of the Hawaiian island of Maui beginning August 8th, 2023. While the fires have since been subdued, thousands of people remain in desperate need of shelter, food, healthcare, and other assistance.

To help, we’ve compiled a list of charities in Hawaii you can support that are providing critical disaster relief to families, animals, and businesses.

If you or someone you know were directly affected by this disaster, contact the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency to find help.

The Maui Wildfires: Current Situation and Impact

On Monday, August 7th, 2023, Hawaii’s Emergency Management System issued a Red Flag Warning, telling residents that low humidity and high winds had created conditions of increased fire danger. In the early morning hours of August 8th, multiple small bushfires were reported on Maui Island.

Dry conditions and winds fueled by Hurricane Dora allowed the fires to spread too quickly for emergency response. The high winds also forced helibuckets to remain grounded, denying fire brigades the benefit of aerial firefighting and forcing ground crews to rely on an outdated water system that proved insufficient. Fire trucks ran out of water, and fire hydrants had such low pressure that they were largely useless.

Authorities managed to control most of the blaze by August 10th, but the disaster’s impact on the local community is devastating. Damages have reached nearly $6 billion. Thousands of structures, 86% residential, have been destroyed. In Lahaina, where the fire was 89% contained by Thursday, August 17, 2700 buildings have burned along with an area of 2,170 acres (880 hectares).

Further upcountry, near Kula and Olinda, fires were 80-85% contained by August 17, and together have burned over 1300 acres. Smaller fires across the island are 100% contained.

The disaster already ranks as the deadliest U.S. wildfire in over 100 years, and the fifth deadliest of all time. 111 people have been killed so far and around 1,300 people remain missing.

What Caused It?

The cause of the fires hasn’t yet been identified. While we can only speculate, data from the U.S. Forest Service suggests that humans cause close to 85% of wildfires. In Hawaii specifically, less than 1% of fires are natural, according to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization.

Europe and Western Canada have seen record-setting summers and scientists point toward climate change as creating increasingly dangerous conditions for fire. In Hawaii, increasing temperatures, dry conditions caused by drought, and high winds compounded the wildfire’s spread. Fires aren’t uncommon on the islands, the fuel source largely made of flammable, non-native grasses.

Charities and authorities are doing everything they can to mobilize support. Along with other shelters, 2000 housing units, 402 hotel rooms, and 1,400 Airbnb’s have been made available to displaced people so far. But to continue providing critical humanitarian support long after the flames have settled, key charities are in desperate need of donations.

Hawaiian Charities Supporting the Maui Wildfires’ Victims

1. ‘Āina Momona

Website: https://www.kaainamomona.org/maui

Location: Hawaii

Founded by activist Walter Ritte in 2017, ‘Āina Momona is run by a board of Native Hawaiians. The organization cooperates with grassroots communities with the goal of restoring environmental health, cultural rights, and sustainability to improve the community’s overall well-being.

‘Āina Momona cooperates with the Hawaii Community Foundation to raise donations for rapid response, emergency aid, and local schools. It’s also organizing volunteers who want to help in the affected areas, and collecting funds to be distributed directly to the families most impacted by the disaster.

2. Aloha United Way

Website: https://www.auw.org/

Location: Hawaii

Aloha United Way has a century-long history of serving the state’s citizens by uniting organizations, volunteers, and resources to strengthen communities and improve the living standards of Hawaiians in need.

Alongside operating the 211 helpline that provides referrals and information about emergency resources, Aloha United Way has also created the Maui Fire Relief Fund. 100% of its proceeds will be distributed by the organization’s partner agencies to address the most urgent needs of the wildfires’ victims.

3. American Red Cross of Hawaii

Website: https://www.redcross.org/local/hawaii.html

Location: Hawaii

The American Red Cross (ARC) is one of the oldest charitable organizations in the United States. Founded by Clara Barton in 1881, it’s transformed and saved countless lives through its crisis relief and humanitarian support work.

Currently, it has deployed over 300 trained responders working in Maui to help provide aid to victims, including shelter, food, relief supplies, healthcare services, and support finding loved ones.

You can donate via the organization’s website or by calling 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669). You can also volunteer with the ARC. If you or someone you know needs support, you can contact the ARC’s 24/7 helpline by calling 1-800-985-5990.

4. Blood Bank of Hawaii

Website: https://www.bbh.org/

Location: Hawaii

Established in 1941, the Blood Bank of Hawaii is a member of America’s Blood Centers, a nationwide network of community blood programs.

The Blood Bank of Hawaii has been running blood drives for victims of the disaster, who have been medevacked to hospitals across the islands. The organization needs more donations to meet the demand. If you’re interested in contributing, you can find a list of its donor centers here.

5. Catholic Charities Hawai’i

Website: https://www.catholiccharitieshawaii.org/

Location: Hawaii

Catholic Charities Hawai’i was established in 1947, and has started a number of direct aid programs and advocacy campaigns to help those most in need of assistance. Its aid reaches approximately 40,000 individuals each year.

The charity is directly involved in Maui wildfire relief efforts. In the wake of the devastating fires, it’s devoting 100% of donations to fund both emergency and long-term recovery aid for victims. The organization is also working with other organizations to prioritize relief efforts and meet the most critical needs.

6. Chamber of Commerce Hawaii

Website: https://www.cochawaii.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii is a statewide organization that represents the interests of over 2,000 Hawaii-based businesses and their employees. Established in 1850, it’s one of the oldest business organizations in Hawaii.

The Chamber of Commerce Hawaii operates the Business Relief Fund, which is collecting donations to support businesses and employees affected by the Maui wildfires. It also aggregates valuable contact and donation information on other relief efforts that its member businesses are involved in.

7. Child & Family Service

Website: https://www.childandfamilyservice.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Child & Family Service (CFS) is a community-based charitable organization. Its primary focus is promoting the healthy development of children and strengthening Hawaiian families, especially youths at risk of neglect and those living on low incomes.

In light of the recent wildfires, CFS has started the Community Crisis Response Fund, with the goal of addressing the most pressing community needs. These include services in the form of clothing, food, or temporary shelter assistance, as well as providing trauma counselors and funding additional staffing to help mitigate the disaster’s impact.

8. Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement

Website: https://www.hawaiiancouncil.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) is a non-profit financial development institution headquartered in Kapolei. As well as financial aid, it provides financial counseling and education to low- and moderate-income Hawaiian families.

The organization is the driving force behind the Kāko‘o Maui Fund, established to provide immediate assistance to the victims of the Maui wildfires, as well as local small businesses and cultural groups. The CNHA has received commitments from private and corporate sponsors to match up to $3 million in individual donations.

9. Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation

Website: https://hawaiianimalrescue.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Hawaii Animal Rescue Foundation (HARF) is a Maui-based charitable organization that was established in 2011. It rescues animals and offers them for adoption, and also runs a number of therapeutic and educational programs for people.

After the wildfires began in early August, the organization started the HARF Fire Relief Fund. Its goals are to rescue and protect the lives of pets and other animals that were affected by the disaster.

10. Hawaii Community Foundation

Website: https://www.hawaiicommunityfoundation.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Hawaii Community Foundation (HCF) administers over 1,050 donor funds to improve communities and provide impactful assistance to Hawaiians in need.

The HCF has been at the forefront of the Maui wildfires crisis response. Its Maui Strong Fund has collected tens of millions of dollars in donations, but more is needed. Dozens of Hawaii-based organizations have already made contributions, alongside countless individual donors. If you’re interested in contributing, you can make a donation by following this link.

11. Hawaii Food Bank

Website: https://hawaiifoodbank.org/

Location: Hawaii

When disaster strikes, food banks are one of the first lines of support for those affected. The Hawai’i Food Bank is no different. Operating since 1983, it’s one of the oldest and most reputable food banks in the state.

The organization is distributing aid to individuals and families who are in immediate need of support. Donations can be made quickly through the Hawaii Food Bank’s website.

12. Hawaii Lions Foundation

Website: https://www.hawaiilionsfoundation.org/

Location: Hawaii

The mission of the Hawaii Lions Foundation is to help sight- and hearing-impaired individuals, but it also carries out many other humanitarian projects. The organization is often one of the first on the scene of natural disasters, working to provide aid and offer support.

In response to the Maui wildfires, all donations collected through the Hawaii Lions Foundation’s website will be used to send much-needed medical supplies, water, and food to the disaster’s victims. A private donor has also pledged to match up to $25,000 in donations to the Maui Disaster Relief fund.

13. Hawaii People’s Fund

Website: https://www.hawaiipeoplesfund.org/

Location: Hawaii

Since its establishment in 1972, the mission of the Hawaii People’s Fund has been to promote grassroots social movements in the state. It’s an intermediary organization that helps these movements obtain funding and enact change.

The Hawaii People’s Fund is collecting donations via Maui Aloha: The People’s Response. The proceeds are redistributed among the fund’s Maui-based community partners that have organized wildfire relief efforts in the area.

14. Maui Humane Society

Website: https://www.mauihumanesociety.org/

Location: Hawaii

Natural disasters affect both humans and animals. The Maui Humane Society is currently accepting donations that will fund healthcare and support for pets and animals that were affected by the wildfires.

The organization distributes pet supplies and emergency kits to several Maui-based shelters, including Napili Plaza, War Memorial (Wailuku), Lahaina Gateway, Ma’alaea Harbor, and Hannibal Tavares (Makawao). The Maui Humane Society also has veterinarians stationed at the Lahaina Gateway and Napili Plaza.

15. Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation

Website: https://pshf.org/

Location: Hawaii

Focused on improving the quality and standards of public education in the State of Hawaii, the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation has been helping teachers and students in public schools thrive since 1986.

The Maui wildfires have affected a number of public schools in the county, and all donations collected by the Public Schools of Hawaii Foundation between August 7, 2023, and October 1, 2023, will be directed toward helping public schools recover from the devastating fires.

16. Women’s Fund Hawaii

Website: https://womensfundhawaii.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Women’s Fund of Hawaii was established to provide funding for grassroots programs supporting women’s empowerment in the state. The organization is a valuable resource for young women looking to start a business, as well as an important advocate for women’s causes.

Following the Maui wildfires, the organization has established an emergency fund, dedicating its proceeds to the immediate assistance of victims. Donations are collected online.

17. YWCA O’ahu

Website: https://www.ywcaoahu.org/

Location: Hawaii

The Young Women’s Christian Association O’ahu has a long, proud history of empowering Hawaiian women, helping them overcome discrimination and live happy, fulfilling lives. Today, it’s the largest and oldest women’s membership organization in Hawaii.

The wildfires have impacted dozens of small businesses. YWCA O’ahu offers free support, counseling, and advice to small business owners who have been affected via their two business centers: the Patsy T. Mink Center for Business & Leadership and the Enterprising Women of Color Business Center.

International Charities Supporting the Maui Wildfires’ Victims

18. Feeding America

Website: https://www.feedingamerica.org/

Location: U.S.A.

As the largest hunger-relief organization in the U.S., Feeding America supports millions of hungry individuals in the country with access to free, nutritious food. It operates a network of over 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries across all 50 states.

In response to the fires on Maui, Feeding America is working with national donors to increase food and cash donations, which are being directed to relief and recovery efforts. It’s also working to distribute boxes of food, water, and hygiene kits from its West Coast partner food banks to the affected areas.

Two of Feeding America’s members are coordinating the organization’s response on the island. The Maui Food Bank has established two local food distribution sites, while the Hawai’i Foodbank is cooperating with its shipping partners to organize the transportation of additional food.

19. GoFundMe

Website: https://www.gofundme.com

Location: U.S.A

GoFundMe is one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world, and is committed to making charitable giving safe and easy for anyone. Since its establishment, more than $10 billion dollars have been raised on the platform.

GoFundMe has dedicated a page that aggregates fundraisers for Maui wildfire relief efforts. The organization’s Trust and Safety team has verified these fundraisers, and will continue to update the page with more projects as they are vetted.

20. Mercy Chefs

Website: https://mercychefs.com

Location: U.S.A

Mercy Chefs, a faith-based humanitarian relief organization headquartered in New Orleans, was established in 2006 in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

The charity is supporting the wildfire relief efforts in Maui by providing hot, restaurant-quality meals to victims, volunteers, and emergency responders. Individuals based in Hawaii who want to lend their time to aid Mercy Chefs’ efforts can enlist as volunteers on the organization’s website.

21. Together Rising

Website: https://togetherrising.org/

Location: U.S.A

An all-women-led non-profit philanthropic organization, Together Rising has managed to raise more than $45 million for women and families in crisis since 2012. It provides support to individuals and communities through direct aid and grants to other humanitarian organizations.

Together Rising has created a donation funnel to gather funds for the victims of Maui wildfires. The organization cooperates closely with the Maui Food Bank to provide food, diapers, feminine hygiene products, toiletries, and other essentials to the people affected by the Maui wildfires.

22. World Central Kitchen

Website: https://wck.org/

Location: U.S.A

World Central Kitchen (WCK) was created by chef José Andrés after he saw the need for feeding victims of natural disasters following the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Since then, WCK’s volunteers have regularly found themselves on the frontlines of relief efforts. Donations to WCK’s efforts in Maui can be made through its website.

The organization’s Relief Team arrived in Maui soon after the wildfires broke out. It has served over 60,000 meals to families affected by the disaster, as well as to first responders. It established a centralized distribution hub at the Lahaina Gateway Center, a natural meeting place where locals gather. Two more distribution sites were set up in the nearby communities of Napili and Kaanapali.

How to Avoid Scams When Donating to a Charity

Unfortunately, where there is suffering and need, there are also scammers capitalizing on the situation. They may set up fake crowdfunding pages, social media pages, donation sites, or even target individuals by phone or direct message.

Here are some steps you can take to help ensure your donation is heading to those who need it most:

  • Choose a well-known and reputable charity. All of the charities we’ve listed can be 100% trusted.
  • Vet a charity before you donate. Search the charity you’re considering using tools like Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which rate the legitimacy of charities. You can also check whether any U.S. charity is registered as a tax-exempt non-profit in the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search.
  • Search the charity’s name with queries that include words like “review,” “complaint,” “scam,” or “fraud.” If there are trusted reviews claiming the charity is a scam, that’s a major red flag.
  • Donate using credit cards or checks. Credit cards and checks are traceable. Never donate via wire transfer or gift cards, and avoid crypto donations, which are also hard to track and therefore risky.
  • Avoid payment apps that don’t offer fraud protection. Some payment apps, such as Venmo or Zelle, don’t allow you to recoup your money if you are scammed. These types of apps should only be used for sending money to people you know.
  • Be cautious of callers asking for donations. While some charities may conduct outreach, research the charity before you commit over the phone.
  • Don’t be rushed into donating. Legitimate charities will never force you to donate on the spot. This is a telltale sign of a scam. Take your time and conduct research.

Other Ways You Can Support People Affected by the Crisis

Other than donating cash, what else can you do to help? If you live in the local area or are just willing to offer hands-on assistance, there are a few options available.

  1. Provide shelter. If you are able and willing to offer temporary accommodation to people who’ve been displaced, you could consider opening your doors or helping others find housing. There are official avenues to use, such as the Maui Nui Strong Foundation.
  2. Donate essential supplies. While charities often favor cash donations because they can better allocate their resources, you can also donate essential items like non-perishable foods, toiletries, and bedding. You should contact shelters or charities first to check whether they accept these donations, and if so, which supplies are most needed.
  3. Offer transportation. While you shouldn’t drive into an active crisis zone, you can use your vehicle to transport supplies, or people who are affected by the fire. This may involve driving people to shelters, medical appointments, or other engagements. You can contact local community groups and charitable organizations to see how you can be of assistance.
  4. Become a volunteer. If you want to help with search and rescue efforts, distributing aid, and other forms of assistance, you can sign up as a volunteer. Over 6,000 people have begun training as volunteers with the American Red Cross of Hawaii since the fires began, and there are other volunteering opportunities available. You can volunteer with the ARC here.
  5. Spread the word. The wildfires have garnered huge media attention, but work still needs to be done to raise awareness of the crisis and convince people to donate. By sharing information about the crisis, you can help legitimate donation drives and volunteering opportunities.

The Bottom Line

Charities and first responders are doing all they can to relieve the pain and suffering of the Maui wildfires’ victims. However, most non-profits working in the area are in dire need of assistance. These organizations rely on donors to expand their reach and ensure the immediate availability of resources in the case of emergencies like the Maui wildfires.

Our list of charitable organizations consists only of trustworthy, reputable institutions. When donating to one of them, you can be sure that your money will end up in safe hands and go toward assisting victims of the Maui wildfires.

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About the Author

About the Author

As a Content Writer for SafetyDetectives, Maciej specializes in data privacy and security, and has also worked on numerous reviews of security programs. Maciej’s commitment to quality research – whether it’s analyzing security trends, or compiling the very best industry statistics – helps to ensure his pieces deliver accurate and useful information.