On Sunday, the United States suffered the worst mass shooting incident in its modern history, with 50 people shot dead at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, and 53 more injured (some hospitalized victims are still reportedly in critical condition). Pulse is a gay club, described by many since the shooting as a haven of LGBT acceptance and safety within the city. As for the massacre, it's been widely described as both an act of terrorism and an anti-gay hate crime. Here's how to donate to the Orlando shooting victims' and their families if you have the time, the ability, or the resources to spare.
Perhaps needless to say, if you've been following the coverage of the Orlando shooting so far, there are different sorts of donations that are very valuable at a time like this. Namely, donating money could be a huge help to the victims of the deadly attack, but if you're in the central Florida area, donating blood could also make a huge difference. By all means, try to chip in however you're best equipped to help — although not everyone will have the proximity or the financial wherewithal to contribute, those who can have the ability to make a difference.
1. Donate To Equality Florida
If you're looking for an easy way to donate funds through a reputable organization, Equality Florida's GoFundMe page is a good place to start. The state's foremost LGBT rights and advocacy organization, Equality Florida has already raised an impressive $2.8 million through the fundraiser, and according to their page, GoFundMe has contributed $100,000 itself, effectively cancelling its usual fees so that the full amount donated will go to support the victims and their families.
2. Donate To Help Fund Crisis Counseling
The GLBT Community Center in Orlando is also raising funds through a GoFundMe, with an emphasis on setting up crisis counseling for the shooting victims and their loved ones — even beyond physical wounds, it's hugely important not to overlook the sheer trauma and psychological toll this sort of devastating event can have on a community. The Center is heading up this effort, according to the page, in collaboration with "MBA, Hope and Help, Two Spirit Health, Zebra Coalition, Rollins, and various other GLBT organizations," and they state that 100 percent of donations will go to support victims and their families.
3. Donate Your Blood To Victims Who Need It
This option is dependent on having some physical proximity to the city of Orlando, but it's still a great and essential choice for anybody in the area. Since the shooting took place, people have been lining up to give their blood at OneBlood donation centers in Orlando, and although they reported being full-up on Sunday, they also made it clear that they'd still want and need more donations in the days to come — check out their website for more details. And remember, this is especially crucial issue thanks to the FDA's ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, which has understandably inflamed outrage over the last few days.
4. Don't Get Fooled By An Inhumane, Inhuman Scam
Nobody wants to think that scam artists are constantly lurking in the wings, waiting to descend on the next national tragedy to line their pockets, but it always seems to happen. In other words, cynical, fraudulent money-grubbers are a sad fact of life. And in the case of the Pulse gay club shooting, as Maria Lamagna detailed for MarketWatch, there have already been some of these popping up — on Monday, a fraudulent tweet (a paid and promoted one, no less) claiming to be from Pulse itself solicited donations before being shut down amid outcry.
Basically, no matter how dire, discouraging, or reflective of the absolute worst instincts of humanity it might be, there are people out there who want to use this atrocity to steal a little bit of your cash, so don't let them. Only donate to reputable charities or fundraisers that have been verified and publicized to a satisfactory extent, because suffice to say those scammers don't deserve a whit of your time.