How to support BC wildfire relief efforts

August 03, 2021
7 min read

Charitable Impact

The aftermath of a wildfire

Support charities helping communities affected by forest fires, and take informed actions to address underlying causes. 

This summer, the province of British Columbia has been on high alert. A state of emergency was declared in our home province in July, as firefighters and other emergency responders were dealing with more than 270 active wildfires. 

An unprecedented heatwave, high winds, and record drought conditions in many areas have contributed to the blazes. Up to 350 federal military troops arrived last month to help out in the province. Additional troops arrived in Manitoba where communities have also been gravely affected by forest fires.

Such large-scale events can bring up feelings of overwhelm and helplessness. But there are ways you can help. As an individual, one important step is to create your own grab-and-go bags. These help you be prepared in case of emergency events, reducing the burden on first responders and relief organizations. 

There are also a number of organizations you can support as a donor. Our in-house Research Team has prepared a list of carefully selected, relevant charities provided below. These are specialized in disaster relief and are making specific appeals for funds to support relief efforts for the wildfires. 

Keep in mind: when you donate on Charitable Impact, you have the flexibility to decide how you will communicate with charities. You have the option to add a brief message indicating how you would like to direct your gift (even if you give without sharing your name or contact information). The charity will receive this message with your gift.

Charities supporting BC wildfire relief efforts

Adra Canada: Based in Newcastle, ON, this charity represents the global humanitarian arm of the Seventh-day Adventist Church and works in Canada and internationally. According to their charity page, they “deliver relief and development assistance to individuals in more than 130 countries—regardless of their ethnicity, political affiliation, gender, or religious association.” 

In response to the wildfires, Adra Canada is managing in-kind donations and appreciates funding support. “Our team is on the ground preparing a warehouse in the central Okanagan region to receive, sort, store and distribute in-kind donations. However, your support is still needed to help families and communities affected by this disaster.”

The Canadian Red Cross: This humanitarian organization assists vulnerable people in times of need, both in Canada and around the world. Perhaps one of the most recognizable disaster relief organizations, the Red Cross is a constant presence in times of catastrophe. 

Eligible donations to the Red Cross’s 2021 British Columbia Fires appeal are being matched by the Government of Canada (until August 10th) and the Government of British Columbia (until December 31). “Donations to the Canadian Red Cross will be used for immediate and ongoing relief efforts, long-term recovery, resiliency, and preparedness for future events in British Columbia and impacted regions, including consequential events related to the fires.”

Food Banks of British Columbia: This provincial organization provides support to local food bank chapters throughout BC, including by providing transportation of large-scale donations, through subsidies and support to member food banks, and generally assisting food banks facing any hardships or difficulties. 

Currently, all donations to Food Banks of British Columbia are being directed to support the communities affected by the BC wildfires.  According to the website: “Your generosity ensures that member food banks have access to the resources that will help them support their communities.”

The Primate’s World Relief And Development Fund: “PWRDF connects Anglicans in Canada to communities around the world in dynamic partnerships to advance development to respond to emergencies, to assist refugees, and to act for positive change.” This charity works on a wide range of humanitarian and development programs. 

The organization is currently collecting an emergency fund for those affected by the devastating fires in Lytton, BC. You can add a note to the charity indicating “Lytton Fire Emergency Fund” when you make a donation through Charitable Impact.

United Way – Lower Mainland: This Vancouver-area organization serves local organizations, and funds about 450 programs each year.

The United for BC Wildfire Recovery Fund plays an important role in helping affected communities recover from the devastation resulting from the wildfires. Funds go towards addressing important needs like permanent housing, food assistance, trauma, and mental health support.

Addressing the underlying climate change issue

Giving to charities addressing relief efforts to the fires is critical to supporting communities suffering their dire effects. These disastrous events are increasing in frequency due to climate change—often called a “wicked problem.” Feelings of hopelessness and helplessness may arise around this complex and immense issue.

Charitable giving amplifies your impact as an individual.

We reached out to an expert to help inform your own approach to addressing climate change as an individual and as a donor. Zena Harris is the Founder and President of Green Spark Group, where she takes a systems-based approach to improving sustainability in the TV and film industry. She is also an Impact Ambassador, guiding donors to a list of high-impact charities helping protect BC’s beautiful natural environment

“Living in fear only gets us so far and I don’t think that’s the overarching way we should approach our lives,” said Harris. “It’s so much easier to be hopeful and to want to strive for something. I like to think about all the opportunities and things we can do related to the climate, instead of doom and fear.”

According to Harris, some of those opportunities to consider include walking more and driving less, eating less meat or buying more locally produced food, and reducing single use plastic consumption and overall consumption of goods. 

Charitable giving is also important because it “amplifies your impact if you can give to a non-profit that’s dedicated to the environment.”

From small changes to major transformations

Harris acknowledges “there are so many facets of how our society works—from the fuel to the food, and all the systems and supply chains around the manufacturing of goods and services—it is hard to get your mind around.”

“We really should really be thinking in a circular model, where we are taking materials and using them again and again and again,” she said.

Individual actions are powerful.

Making small changes is how we can start to influence those larger overarching transformations. As Harris said: “Sometimes people think that their one thing or two things that they do might seem insignificant and not really matter. But in fact, everything we do has a ripple effect. Our individual actions are actually quite powerful.”