FAQ

What is the UndocuFund?

The UndocuFund is a collective local effort to ensure that undocumented individuals and families displaced by the fires have the support and resources they need to recover and rebuild their lives in Sonoma County, where many have put down deep roots. Affected immigrants include our friends, neighbors, coworkers, and fellow students. Many care for our children and elderly parents; clean our homes and hotel rooms; cook and serve our restaurant meals; maintain our lawns and landscaping; and tend to and harvest the grapes that are the backbone of our County’s economy.

How will the Fund help undocumented immigrants?

The Fund assists individuals and families who have lost their homes, wages, and/or employment due to the wildfires with expenses including but not limited to: temporary housing, home repairs, rent, groceries, essential household items, clean-up items, medical and dental expenses, tools and equipment required for work, school supplies, repair of essential vehicles, moving and storage expenses, and funeral and burial expenses. The Fund will also help affected families access other community resources to help them get back on their feet and rebuild their lives.

What is your fundraising goal?

Our goal is to raise at least $5 million so that we can give a meaningful level of assistance to help individuals and families recover from the fires and begin to get back on their feet. As of November 3, nearly 4,300 individuals have contributed approximately $930,000.

Who is involved?

The UndocuFund is a partnership among three Sonoma County-based grassroots organizations that have a solid reputation, strong track record, and are known to and trusted by many undocumented residents: Graton Day Labor Center, North Bay Organizing Project, and North Bay Jobs with Justice. The Fund has a community advisory board with representatives from other community organizations and public institutions, as well as elected officials. It is also supported by a large network of immigrant-serving organizations that have close ties to immigrant communities across Sonoma County and that will help publicize the fund and identify eligible individuals and families. As a result, the UndocuFund is more likely to reach undocumented fire victims than other relief efforts.

How are the funds managed?

Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) serves as fiscal sponsor.

Based in Sebastopol, GCIR has a solid financial management system in place and is highly regarded within the philanthropic community in California and nationally.

Why does the UndocuFund focus solely on Sonoma County?

Sonoma County is the area that was most severely impacted by the fires, and the three founding organizations work largely in this county.

Why do you need a fund specifically for undocumented immigrants?

Unlike other fire victims, undocumented immigrants do not qualify for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Even when they or their children are eligible for disaster relief services, their lack of immigration status, limited English proficiency, and fear of immigration enforcement prevent them from seeking assistance. Their discomfort or lack of familiarity with law enforcement, county government, and mainstream aid organizations present additional barriers.

How many undocumented immigrants are affected?

An estimated 38,5001 undocumented immigrants live and work in Sonoma County, the area that has been hardest hit by the fires. While precise numbers are unavailable, only a fraction of undocumented immigrants were displaced permanently or on a long-term basis by the fires. However, undocumented immigrants predominantly work in sectors that have been or will be hard hit, including service, hospitality, child and elder care, day labor, wine, and agriculture more broadly. Many lost wages in the weeks following the fires, and others worked for companies whose operations were affected at varying levels, from temporary disruption to complete loss.

Who is eligible for support from the UndocuFund?

Undocumented immigrants who are residents of Sonoma County and heads of household and other wage earners are eligible for assistance and who have experienced loss of housing, vehicles, other possessions, wages, and/or jobs due to the fires.

What is the application process?

The streamlined application process utilizes a simple intake form , which is completed by community partner organizations and at application clinics. The staffs of these partner organizations have experience in case management and client services, and they have been specifically trained on the UndocuFund intake and referral process. Once an application has been submitted, it undergoes a review process that includes verification and other due diligence.

Who makes the decisions?

A steering committee with representatives from the Graton Day Labor Center, North Bay Organizing Project, and North Bay Jobs with Justice, in consultation with immigrant community leaders, has established the eligibility criteria, developed a streamlined application process, and put in place verification procedures, as well as guidelines for determining awards. Upon completion of a thorough review process and final review and approval by the steering committee, funds are disbursed to families and individuals in need according to established criteria and guideline.

How does the UndocuFund guard against fraud?

A set of verification procedures and internal controls are in place to ensure that funds go to families and individuals who meet the eligibility criteria.  The UndocuFund utilizes at least two reviewers per application, and due diligence involves checking more than one source to confirm applicants’ identities and how they have been impacted by the fires. For example, if an applicant indicated that she lost wages due to the fires, the UndocuFund will request pay stubs if available, obtain an affidavit for the employer, and other forms of verification. Applicants will be asked to attest to the accuracy of information provided to the UndocuFund. Provision of false information will result in immediate disqualification for assistance.

What percentage of my donation goes to fire victims?

One hundred percent of all individual donations directly supports fire victims. The fund’s partners will cover all administrative costs, including administration and disbursement of the funds, as well as credit-card processing fees, through other funding sources.

Is my donation tax deductible?

Yes, your donation is made to a 501(c)(3) organization and is tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Are you accepting donations of clothing, furniture, tools, etc.?

Thanks to the incredible outpouring of community support, we are currently not accepting small-scale donations. We will make a public announcement if that changes. If you would like to donate a vehicle, trailer, or other such high-value item, please contact info@undocufund.org.

How can I volunteer and/or support the UndocuFund?

  • Tell your friends and family to donate.
  • Like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter. (Doing so helps us reach more people.)
  • Organize a benefit event. (See our Resources page.)
  • Hold a fund drive at your place of work.