Disasters and Donors, Part II: Wildfires
October 15, 2020
In the Western United States, millions live under constant fear that a fast-moving wildfire could destroy their property or take their lives. Many have their own stories about being ushered from their homes late in the night by firefighters, gathering essential items and keepsakes under a sky aglow with embers. For the millions of Americans who live west of the hundredth meridian—in states like California, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Nevada, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, and Arizona—wildfires are a recurring trauma that upend lives, destroy property, and inflict psychological damage.
In many ways, wildfires track with climate change. As the earth warms, summers on the West Coast have gotten hotter, and winters much drier. California’s verdant Mediterranean hillsides have slowly been transformed into tinderboxes, requiring little more than a lightning strike or a spark from a passing car to become dangerous infernos.
This year alone has already been the worst fire seasons in the state’s history—and we are still weeks from its peak. Countless individuals and families have been evacuated, with some losing their property and—unfortunately—even their lives. Those far from the front line have still been made to suffer. Large plums of smoke have enveloped the West from Canada to Mexico, causing respiratory discomfort and confining individuals to their homes.
As philanthropists, we have a role to play in ameliorating this suffering.
At the Amit Raizada Foundation, we’ve always sought to develop ways to use investment and targeted giving as a means to catalyze lasting social change. During this difficult time, it is incumbent upon us to harnesses the resources at our disposal to aid in recovery efforts, support prevention and risk mitigation programs, and improve lives for the millions of Americans forced to live with the intractable burden of wildfires.
The most immediate needs stemming from the latest bout of fires include providing food and shelter for evacuees and supporting victims who have lost property. In California, another acute need comes from those in fire-prone areas who have lost power due to preventative measures that involve de-energizing powerlines during Red Flag conditions.
California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund has already granted over $24M to support relief and recovery efforts. Philanthropists looking to make an impact in California and across the west should seek out opportunities to give to similar organizations.
To get involved at the more granular level, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has developed strategies to support recovery and resilience in communities recovering from deadly and damaging wildfires. Data from the Center, for example, shows that one can maximize their impact by rebuilding damaged or lost homes and businesses, supporting local agencies who work with vulnerable populations, funding drought mitigation efforts, and sponsoring fire prevention and public safety awareness campaigns.
With so much on the line, it is critical we look for ways to lend a helping hand. At the Amit Raizada Foundation, I’ve recalibrated many of my key investment strategies for the philanthropic space, seeking to see the world differently by spurring solutions to social challenges like health, education, and inequality.
Wildfires deepen disparities in all three. The smoke harms our lungs, evacuations force school closures, and the same vulnerable populations are often struck time and time again.
During this year of crisis and upheaval, it is our responsibility to take steps within our means to help mitigate these challenges in our communities.
Amit Raizada is a forward-thinking entrepreneur and investor whose mastery of investment and growth strategies has helped launch and grow countless successful business ventures across the globe. In 2002, Raizada founded Spectrum Business Ventures which today consists of more than 80 operating companies spanning multiple industries including technology, entertainment, real estate, financial services, hospitality, retail, eSports, fashion and others. Raizada is a lifelong philanthropist with a devout passion for giving back to the community, and in 2017 cofounded Vision Global Foundation, which supports charitable causes around the globe that focus on children and families in need. For more information about Amit Raizada please visit his bio page.