Skip to main content

Post-wildfire report on nonprofit services: mental health a critical need, services to most vulnerable citizens impacted

At the end of 2017, Community Foundation of Sonoma County and Napa Valley Community Foundation enlisted the Center for Effective Philanthropy to conduct a survey of local nonprofit organizations about the impacts of the wildfires on the people they serve and on their organizational capacity to provide services in response.
While reading CEP Advisory Services "2018 Wildfire Response Survey" report through an ACEs and trauma-informed lens, the following findings jumped out at me:
1. Mental health was consistently cited among the top three impacts resulting from the wildfires, as well as a key individual and community need in the recovery. However, the majority of the nonprofits reported that a greater portion of their resources were focused on responding to immediate financial and housing needs of clients who lost their homes in the fires.
2. The majority of respondents (90%) indicated that the people they serve have been impacted by emotional trauma as a result of the wildfires, but only 14% cited training for trauma-informed care as a pressing community need.
3. As a result of the focus on services to address immediate housing and financial needs of those impacted by the fires, nonprofits reported a significant shift of services provided from the populations they served before the wildfires, including children and youth (-20%). Below is a graphic from the report illustrating the dramatic shift in services provided to specific populations.Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 12.43.52 PM
I have my own takeaways from this report, namely about the key role mental health services play in recovery; the need for continued education and advocacy around trauma-informed care; and the significant impact that a natural disaster places on service providers whose resources are already stretched thin.  I'm very much interested in hearing your thoughts!


Images (1)
  • Screen Shot 2018-05-31 at 12.43.52 PM: Center for Effective Philanthropy, 201818

Add Comment

Comments (4)

Newest · Oldest · Popular

Thank you, Lena, for sharing this real-time response survey. The level of suffering, from those who're now homeless, to those who received less services due to service providers stretched so thin, is staggering.

Mental health awareness, education, and implementation cross-sector is so critically imperative. The suffering permeates through all those impacted.

Your 2018 Wildfire Response Survey highlights the paramount community needs and frames this reality in a succinct, profound way.

Thanks for posting this Lena!

  • I'm not surprised that agencies literally prioritized "bricks & mortar" projects over less tangible outcomes such as mental health. Still, it's sad that we do so.
  • The data on populations served is surprising: I get that persons who lost their home in the fires might have been persons previously more likely to give to causes than to seek assistance from them. Still, you would expect that some who lost homes would be seniors, veterans, LGBTQ, women, etc., so why are those numbers so low? Seriously, wouldn't you expect a large majority of the affected households to include at least one woman? 
Copyright ÂĐ 2021, PACEsConnection. All rights reserved.
Link copied to your clipboard.