To travel the world is to become part of it—to make friends with its citizens, fall in love with its landscapes, and connect with its cultures. The sobering flipside to that coin, however, is that for travelers, when hard times hit, they never hit “somewhere else” in the world—they hit home.
These past few months have been particularly hard for the world. It seems like every other week we’ve published a new article on afar.com about how to help the communities affected by natural or political disasters in the destinations we love. And while donating money, volunteering, or—most important of all—visiting, are all immensely helpful steps, it’s hard to shake the feeling that individual contributions are just not enough.
That’s why this year, Giving Tuesday feels like every winter holiday rolled into one. The global day of giving, which takes place in 2017 on November 28, was launched in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a way to push back against the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Part donation drive, part awareness campaign, it’s a chance to give back in useful, needed ways and to magnify your impact simply by being part of the movement.
We've already written about where to visit this year to help destinations in need, but until you can get there, here are a few of the causes and organizations we’ll be donating to on Giving Tuesday and in the future.
The 7.3 magnitude earthquake that hit the border between Iraq and Iran on the night of November 12 is already considered one of the deadliest of the year. You can help provide much-needed relief funds. International Red Crescent rescue teams are already on the ground and while the organization doesn’t currently take online donations, you can donate via bank transfer. If you’d rather use online portals, you can donate to the International Committee of the Red Cross; the sister organization shares donations with international branches. Relief International, a nonprofit emergency relief organization that was founded in 1990 after the 7.7 magnitude Manjil-Rudbar earthquake (also in northwestern Iran), has also posted an urgent call for donations for earthquake-affected families in Iran and Iraq.
Northern California Wine Country
With our editorial offices located in San Francisco, Northern California Wine Country is a place near and dear to our hearts. Not only is the area a favorite weekend getaway and the place we source our happy hour wines, but many of us also have friends and family from Napa, Sonoma, Solano, Lake, and Mendocino counties whose lives were effected by the recent fires. We’ll be giving back in many ways in the months and years to come by visiting, volunteering, and buying wine, but on November 28 we’ll be donating to a few specific organizations. Rebuild Wine Country is a long-term-looking organization that works in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to rebuild housing for locals. The Community Foundations for Sonoma, Napa, and Mendocino counties are also accepting donations that will help support citizens and the organizations they rely on during relief and recovery efforts. Finally, donations made to UndocuFund will provide aid to undocumented immigrants in Sonoma County, an essential and overlooked community that faces numerous blocks to disaster-relief services.
The Caribbean, Florida, and Puerto Rico
This year’s one-two punch from Hurricanes Irma and Maria was particularly punishing for the Caribbean and the Florida coast, ravaging the region and even rendering some islands completely uninhabitable. As we’ve said before, the best way to help the Caribbean is to go, but on November 28, you can also put your dollars toward recovery efforts. Tourism Cares, a 501(c)3, a nonprofit and charitable community for the travel and tourism industry (of which AFAR is a Chairman’s Circle Member), is administering the Caribbean Tourism Recovery Fund, which will help to restore tourism resources and infrastructure so people can get back to work as fast as possible. Global Giving, a crowdfunding platform that connects nonprofits with donors and companies, has organized a Hurricane Irma Relief Fund, which will divide donations among vetted local organizations in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, and Florida. (If you’re nervous about the crowdfunding aspect, the organization has received a 4/4 on Charity Watch.) All Hands Volunteers provides emergency volunteer relief all over the world and has current projects operating in the Caribbean and Florida (and Houston, too). You can also donate directly to different countries’ relief efforts, like those in Dominica; the island was hit harder by Maria than by Irma and has been somewhat overlooked in relief coverage.
Puerto Rico, struggling with a humanitarian crisis after Maria’s direct hit, is also caught in political crosshairs, which has made it even harder for the region to get the funds it so desperately needs. Two months since the hurricane hit, more than half of the island is still without power. Luckily, Puerto Rico has a lot of powerful voices on its side. United for Puerto Rico, an initiative started by the island’s First Lady, Beatriz Rosselló, is calling for monetary donations that will be used to purchase relief and recovery goods from local suppliers to help restart the economy. ConPRmetidos, a Puerto Rican organization focused on public-private partnership, is taking donations to fund immediate and long-term recovery solutions. If you head over to the iTunes Store to buy Lin-Manuel Miranda’s newest creation, “Almost Like Praying,” a compilation featuring such artists as Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, and Marc Anthony, all proceeds will go directly to the Hispanic Federation’s Unidos Program (you can also donate directly to the program).
Although hit by two devastating earthquakes just a few weeks apart, Mexico emerged from the rubble teeming with stories of resilience and hope. The country’s response to the disasters was quick, and the outpouring of local help and support was overwhelming. Now, the focus has shifted to long-term recovery, and the best way to contribute (besides visiting) is to donate to the rebuilding efforts of local communities—especially those outside of Mexico City. Habitat for Humanity launched a large-scale response to the disaster, becoming a rallying force in the efforts to rebuild Mexico. The International Community Fund works with local organizations in Oaxaca and Chiapas to fund recovery efforts, and if you donate to the border-straddling El Paso Community Foundation, you can give to local recovery efforts for the earthquake in Chiapas and Oaxaca, the earthquake in Mexico City, or both. Also, with Arriba Mexico, you can donate to a reconstruction fund by “booking” symbolic stays at destroyed houses around the country.
The four feet of rain that fell during Hurricane Harvey was bad enough, but for Houston, the recovery process has proved to be almost as punishing as the hurricane itself. Rebuilding efforts are well underway, but the city’s struggle continues—albeit away from the public eye. Donate to the Greater Houston Community Fund to help the city’s reconstruction, or go local with Houston’s Habitat for Humanity or SBP, a New Orleans–based organization sending AmeriCorps volunteers to help with the rebuilding efforts. And while you’re collecting cans for your local food drive, consider donating money to Houston’s local food banks (The Houston Press has compiled a list); for families still struggling to rebuild their lives or even to simply find housing, food banks will be an invaluable resource this holiday season.
Global Refugee Crisis
Two years ago, we wrote about donating to the Syrian refugee crisis relief efforts. Sadly, those same organizations still to need your help today. MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) continues to help Syrian refugees arriving by boat in Europe and has recently opened stations throughout Bangladesh and Southeast Asia to help Rohingya refugees. Consider making a recurring donation to the UNHCR, Medical Teams International, the International Rescue Committee, and/or Doctors Without Borders. Each first-responder organization relies on continued support to carry out its life-saving activities helping Syrian, Rohingya, and South Sudanese refugees, as well as refugees from around the world. As important as emergency relief is, long-term social programs are also in need of support. Help Alliance, the aid organization of the Lufthansa Group, focuses many of its projects on providing educational opportunities to refugees and underpriveleged youth in destinations across Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Any time of year is a great time of year to donate to Learning AFAR, our travel scholarship program. In partnership with the No Barriers organization, we provide students from low-income backgrounds and those with mixed abilities with the opportunity to travel internationally. Since 2009, we’ve helped 613 students see more of the world. Later this month, we’ll be sending students from Oakland, California, to Cambodia—check out what’s in store for them and then get involved by donating to No Barriers.
It’s not just people that need your help. As climate change continues to threaten some of the most beautiful places on the planet, it is more important than ever to redouble our efforts to save, restore, and preserve the environment in the places we love the most. Donate to Save the Waves to help protect coastal resources or to the North American Marine Environment Protection Association to help advocate for sustainable practices in the marine industries. They may be some of the world’s largest environmental organizations, but your donation to the Environmental Defense Fund or the Nature Conservancy will still help fight some of the biggest threats facing the natural world. Also consider donating to individual nature conservation organizations in some of your favorite destinations like the Galapagos Conservancy. And if your favorite places are closer to home, the Trust for Public Lands works to protect U.S. green spaces, from neighborhood parks to national parks.
Want to get even more involved? Giving Tuesday’s website has a search engine to help you find local organizations to donate to or volunteer with, as well as tools to help you figure out how to donate your skills pro bono. In some ways, determining what you really care about supporting can be the best part. Finally, many bigger organizations are running matching campaigns on Giving Tuesday, including Facebook and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which will be matching up to $2 million in donations made through Facebook on Giving Tuedsay.