Readers have asked Civil Beat to follow where donated monies are going.

The donations were rolling into Maui before the ashes of the August wildfires were cold. The sources ranged from small business staff fundraisers to major corporate and philanthropic commitments.

But who gave and where is it going?

As part of Civil Beat’s ongoing coverage of the wildfire relief and recovery effort, we’ve created the Maui Fires Money Tracker to help publicly track the hundreds of millions of dollars that have been channeled to the Valley Isle from both non-government and government sources.

This is an evolving record and is not a definitive accounting of funds for Maui and will be updated regularly.

The tracker doesn’t account for the vast array of goods and materials, in-kind donations, volunteer hours or individual acts of support for survivors. That tally is likely impossible to compile.

Donated goods and services formed an enormous part of the response, but significant cash donations came almost as quickly from a variety of sources. (Brittany Lyte/Civil Beat/2023)

But a Civil Beat estimate as of Dec. 19 puts nongovernment cash support at close to $400 million, placing it on par with funding thus far from the federal government.

The total includes the $60 million raised by GoFundMe online fundraisers from over 340,000 donors in 100 countries and sent directly to survivors, according to regional spokesperson Alex White.

GoFundMe aside, there have been at least 70 separate corporate and philanthropic (non-government) donations to Maui fire recovery, according to public announcements, press releases and available reporting monitored over the past five months.

The entries in the Maui Fires Money Tracker can be filtered for non-government or government affiliation, and the “Details” button will provide more information on the intended purpose of the donation, if known.

Some donations may be split between more than one agency. For example, $500,000 from the Boeing Charitable Trust was divided equally between the American Red Cross and the Maui Strong Fund.

The American Red Cross has not responded to a request for a total for the donations it received directly for its Maui wildfire relief efforts.

Database updated: Dec. 15, 2023

*Note: A large number of financial commitments listed here are being channeled through the Hawaii Community Foundation’s Maui Strong Fund. These amounts are also included in the Maui Strong Fund total and care should be exercised to avoid double-counting.

Civil Beat welcomes corrections, clarifications and additional details about funds for Maui recovery and they can be emailed to news@civilbeat.org.

As the tracker shows, the Maui Strong fund managed by the Hawaii Community Foundation has become the conduit for the bulk of the non-government financial support for organizations supporting Maui wildfire survivors.

Donations to the Maui Strong fund are itemized, so subtract the total shown in the Maui Strong Fund entry to avoid double counting.

The current balance of the Maui Strong Fund is $167.6 million as of Dec. 21 with $36.5 million disbursed. The foundation is updating its disbursements on its website, and we’ve also replicated that in an online spreadsheet below.

The federal commitment to fire relief now totals $412 million according to a release from the office of Sen. Brian Schatz, including $3.9 million in new funding from FEMA's Disaster Relief Fund. Over $300 million of the total is made up of disaster relief loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration ($282 million) and FEMA, ($40 million) in direct payments.

A $95 million award from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to harden the state's electric grid and move the Maui electricity control center to a more resilient location has been included. Other announcements made with reference to the Maui wildfires but not directly connected have been omitted. Additional federal and state government commitments will be added as they are confirmed.

Federal spending can be tracked down to the county level at the government's usaspending.gov website.

A reminder that the post-fire recovery also became an opportunity for some scammers to exploit people's generosity and set up fake charities and donation websites, so exercise caution when giving.

Civil Beat's coverage of Maui County is supported in part by a grant from the Nuestro Futuro Foundation.

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