Hurricane Irma: Fast Facts

Find out how to help Hurricane Irma survivors with these fast facts from GlobalGiving.


Q: Where and when did Hurricane Irma hit?

A: Hurricane Irma, one of the most powerful hurricanes ever to form in the Atlantic Ocean, cut a path of destruction from the Caribbean to Florida. It hit multiple Caribbean islands, including Barbuda, St. Martin, and St. Barts, on Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2017, as a Category 5 storm. The powerful hurricane, with historic wind speeds, then made landfall in Cuba, on Friday, Sept. 8, 2017. Irma plowed into the Florida Keys as a Category 4 storm on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, struck Naples, Florida, and then made its way up the state toward Georgia as a weakened tropical storm.

Q: How is Hurricane Irma impacting people who were in its path?

A: Several people lost their lives to Hurricane Irma, and officials say the storm has caused billions of dollars of damage. Millions of people are without power and thousands have been displaced from their homes. Irma destroyed 25% of homes in the Florida Keys, according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency. It destroyed 90% to 95% of Barbuda, a small island nation in the Caribbean, according to its Prime Minister Gaston Browne. Parts of Cuba and the Virgins Islands are also reeling in Irma’s aftermath. Thousands of people were stuck in crowded shelters and, in Barbuda and other islands, were being evacuated, at the time of this report. The full extent of Irma’s damage is still being calculated.

Q: Where does the money from GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Irma Relief Fund go?

A: All donations to this fund will support relief and recovery efforts in affected regions in the Caribbean and the United States. The fund will help first responders meet survivors’ immediate needs, including the provision of shelter, medical care, food, and clean water. Once initial relief work is complete, this fund will transition to support longer-term recovery efforts run by vetted, local organizations.

Q: What’s GlobalGiving’s history in Florida and other impacted areas?

A: GlobalGiving has longstanding relationships with several partners who are responding in the region. Our regional partners already have relationships and structures in place in the affected communities.

Q: How do you choose which nonprofits to support through the fund?

A: We support organizations that GlobalGiving has established relationships with in the disaster-affected region. In special cases, like Hurricane Irma, we also reach out to reputable, local organizations that are not yet in the GlobalGiving network to ensure our donors’ funds are addressing as many urgent and long-term needs as possible. In these special cases, all organizations still go through GlobalGiving’s extensive vetting process, as well as additional review of their disaster response work, and we trust selected organizations to make the best decisions on the ground.

Q: Why do donors turn to GlobalGiving after natural disasters?

A: For donors, GlobalGiving provides a way to help quickly and effectively without having to do a lot of research. Donors can support both immediate relief and long-term recovery with donations to the Hurricane Irma Relief Fund. Every NGO that receives funds must commit to sending reports to donors at least quarterly, and we typically conduct site visits to check on the work being done. Donors can subscribe to receive updates from the NGO and from our site visits, so they can track their money and see what has been accomplished. An NGO itself, GlobalGiving also works to help companies give to the relief projects that are important to donors. Many companies use GlobalGiving to track and match employee donations to disaster relief efforts, amplifying employee impact and driving further support directly where it’s needed. If you are working on Irma relief on behalf of a company or foundation, you may be interested in this summary of our disaster response services, as well as our new research on disaster philanthropy best practices.

Q: GlobalGiving has a locally driven approach to disaster recovery. Why?

A: Generally, we believe local organizations are best positioned to assess and to respond to needs in the long term, so we listen carefully to what local organizations deem to be most critical. Our view is that locally run organizations can nimbly and effectively provide for immediate and ongoing community needs. Getting funds to them benefits communities directly and quickly. You can learn more about our approach in this article on our website and in this article in Forbes.

Q: How will you keep me updated about how my donation is used?

A: Immediately after a disaster, we submit reports every few weeks describing the efforts that are being supported through the fund, detailing which organizations are receiving funds. As time goes on, we’ll share specific stories, photos, and videos from the efforts.

Q: How long will it take for my money to get to survivors?

A: We’ll make disbursements from the fund as soon as possible, which means your donation could be on the ground in a bank account in 7 days or less. (This is rare for most organizations that aggregate funds as we do!) As the work turns into a long-term recovery effort, we’ll disburse funds on a monthly basis.

Q: How do I know I can trust my donation to GlobalGiving?

A: GlobalGiving is a top-rated (4-star) charity on Charity Navigator. We are also accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Many major news outlets, including The New York Times, NPR, and The Miami Herald have recommended GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Irma Relief Fund. If at any time you’re not happy with how your funds have been used, we also offer the GlobalGiving Guarantee.

Q: I saw that there is a fee on donations through GlobalGiving. Can you explain that fee?

A: GlobalGiving, a nonprofit, charges a 5-12% fee on most donations, plus a 3% payment processing fee. GlobalGiving will retain a 12% nonprofit support fee and 3% payment processing fee for donations to this fund. Here’s how the nonprofit support fee breaks down: 2% goes to the administrative costs of running GlobalGiving, and the rest of the fee (10%) goes to work like identifying, vetting, and supporting organizations—most of which are local organizations. We also have a team that will work to mobilize corporate, institutional, and individual donations to these groups (many are too busy or small to have the time or connections to do this on their own). Our ability to drive further support from companies turns the GlobalGiving fee into an investment that pays off for local groups on the ground. Last year alone, GlobalGiving drove an additional $10 million to its partners, amplifying their impact in communities around the world.

Q: Can I donate goods, such as bottled water or medical supplies, through GlobalGiving to support relief efforts?

A: Thank you very much for your desire to give what you have in order to help survivors in the Caribbean and the United States. GlobalGiving does not have the capacity to collect in-kind donations on behalf of our nonprofit partners. Along with the Center for International Disaster Information, we recommend that individuals give cash, rather than in-kind donations, after disasters. Through cash contributions, relief organizations can do more good for more people, with greater speed and sensitivity than with unrequested material donations. Cash donations provide medical and other life-saving services now, and rebuild infrastructure later. This interesting infographic helps explain why sending material goods, despite the good intentions, can be costly and sometimes harmful. If you are with a company looking to donate in-kind supplies in bulk, visit

Q: How can I spread the word about the Hurricane Irma Relief Fund?

A: Please recommend GlobalGiving’s Hurricane Irma Relief Fund to your friends and family as a safe and easy way to help Hurricane Irma survivors. You can easily share our posts and tweets below from your Facebook or Twitter accounts:

Thank you!

Featured Banner Photo: The UK Department for International Development prepares to send emergency shelter kits to Irma-affected areas on Sept. 8. Photo by UK AID.

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