January 10, 2024
How Flexport.org and GoFundMe.org Joined Forces To Support Maui Wildfire Relief
In early August, wildfires tore through Maui, Hawaii, devastating the community, destroying more than 2,000 houses and buildings, and tragically killing 89 people. While portions of Hawaii have historically been susceptible to wildfires, their frequency and intensity have grown in recent years, and many scientists believe that the intensification can be linked to climate change.
In the face of immense tragedy, numerous community groups and medical institutions rose to help those impacted.
Building on previous successful collaborations – including raising funds to support the shipment of COVID-19 relief supplies and then aid to Ukraine – Flexport.org, the dedicated sustainability and impact team within Flexport, and GoFundMe.org, a strategic nonprofit partner to GoFundMe Inc., joined forces to assist organizations sending relief supplies to Maui. Flexport.org managed the movement of the cargo, and GoFundMe.org provided a grant of $50,000 to cover associated transport costs.
In response to the Maui wildfires, Flexport.org and GoFundMe.org funded the shipment of:
- 7,785 pounds (14 pallets) of medical scrubs and shoes donated by FIGS to the Maui Health Foundation for healthcare professionals affected by the fires
- 39,000 pounds (19 pallets) of non-perishable food, hygiene items, and feminine items donated by Orphan Grain Train to the Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Kahului
- 8,067 pounds (17 pallets) of bedding and bath towels sent by Global Empowerment Mission (GEM)
While transporting these goods as quickly as possible is essential for relief, Flexport.org also recognizes that aviation accounts for roughly 2% of global CO2 emissions, the most carbon-intensive sector of transportation. With a growing number of global disasters linked to climate change, it’s more important than ever for nonprofits to mitigate the emissions associated with transporting supplies and donations.
“Every day, the Global Empowerment Mission (GEM) Hawaii team works with survivors who are rebuilding their lives. Home goods are an essential part of that process. This shipment of bedding and towels was delivered directly to families who lost their homes from our locally-run distribution hub in Lahaina,” said Emily Fullmer, Chief Operations Officer at Global Empowerment Mission, a global disaster relief agency that quickly set up a response to the Maui fires to distribute the delivered goods.
A grant from GoFundMe.org covered the cost of purchasing the Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) certificates for one of the shipments’ air emissions. Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) is a low-carbon alternative to conventional jet fuel and is recognized as the best tool currently available to decarbonize air transport (its lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions are typically a fifth of those from conventional jet fuels). SAF can reduce emissions by as much as 80%.
Getting aid quickly to those impacted by wildfires and other disasters means a large portion of aid cargo must be transported via air freight, as opposed to less intensive methods like ocean freight. SAF minimizes the emissions footprint of urgent aid shipments.
“Even though our focus in an emergency situation is getting support quickly and efficiently to people who need it, we’re always looking for ways to incorporate sustainability into our crisis response,” said Amanda Brown Lierman, Executive Director of GoFundMe.org. “In this instance, it was exciting to collaborate with a trusted partner on an innovative solution.”
Utilizing SAF certificates is a form of “insetting,” a method that allows shippers to actually reduce the amount of emissions from a particular project within the value chain from which the emissions originated. This differs from an offset which compensates for the emissions using an additional project such as forest conservation. Flexport.org offers a whole suite of climate solutions, including emissions measurement and analytics, low-carbon fuel certificates, carbon offsets, and consultative services.
“Flexport.org pays for carbon offsets for all disaster relief shipments,” said Kristen Czapar Dohnt, Head of Flexport.org, “But being able to reduce emissions outright via SAF allows us to align our goals of supporting those in need with aid, while also protecting the long-term health of the environment.”
GoFundMe.org is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that raises and distributes funds to address urgent, unmet needs of people and communities, informed by insights from the GoFundMe platform and the philanthropic priorities of a wide range of community partners.
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