Western Union Foundation disaster response in 2020

Go Global By Emily Larson May 4, 2020

According to the International Disaster Database, Em-Dat, natural disasters affect more than 200 million people each year. For victims of natural disasters, necessities become even more essential. The impact on the affected area’s infrastructure creates challenges to those trying to rebuild their lives, beyond basic necessities such as food and shelter. Along with the need for food and shelter, there’s also the impact on the area’s infrastructure that can create even more challenges to those trying to rebuild and restore control of their lives.

The Western Union Foundation provides funds to nonprofits supporting urgent relief and recovery for people in crisis. We align our efforts with those of The Western Union Company, which is positioned to support aid efforts, due to its global presence and ability to make cash accessible for those in need.

In 2020, the Western Union Foundation responded to the below crises:

Australia Bushfires | January 2020

Australia’s worst wildfires in recorded history raged across New South Wales, South Australia, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania. Learn more about the Foundation’s response here.

Western Union Foundation: Supported the Australian Red Cross with an initial USD $50,000 grant and matched employee donations. Dedicated more than $15,000 in in-app consumer donations to the bushfires. Western Union Agent Direct Flights International – Australia, committed USD $5,000 matched 1:1 by the Foundation.

Australian Red Cross: Provided emergency shelter, food and hygiene to evacuees.

Puerto Rico Earthquakes | January 2020

A series of two earthquakes struck Puerto Rico, a community still recovering from devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Learn more of the Foundation’s response here.

Western Union Foundation: Supported the American Red Cross with an initial USD $25,000 grant and matched employee donations.

American Red Cross: Provided emergency care, family assistance and supplies.

Building Resilient Communities, Philippines l January 2020

Invested in the International Medical Corps as the Western Union Foundation’s 2020 Disaster Preparedness Partner.

Western Union Foundation: Supported the International Medical Corps with a USD $100,000 grant.

International Medical Corps: Provided relief efforts and disaster preparedness training for local frontline health workers, officials and community members in the Philippines, through its ‘Building Resilient Communities in the Philippines’ program.

Restoring Family Links | January 2020

The American Red Cross’ Restoring Family Links initiative helps reconnect family members separated by crisis, conflict and migration. “The work we do through the Restoring Family Links program would not be possible without donors like the Western Union Foundation. We are grateful to have a partner that shares our mission of connecting loved ones,” said Gino Greco, Red Cross regional CEO for Colorado and Wyoming.

Western Union Foundation: Supported the American Red Cross with an initial $50,000 grant. Dedicated more than $10,000 US in-app consumer donations to the program.

American Red Cross: Supported and reunited families separated at the US border.

Southern US Flooding and Tornadoes | February 2020

Two tornadoes struck Nashville, Tennessee, killing many and left many more without shelter. The storms disheveled home sand historic buildings in the Germantown neighborhood. Flooding also devasted various southern states, including Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Western Union Foundation: Supported the American Red Cross with a USD $15,000 grant and matched employee donations.

American Red Cross Provided clean water, food and shelter to the people impacted by the storms.

COVID-19 Global Response | February 2020

On March 11, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, as cases continue to spread around the world. The Western Union Foundation announced a  USD $1M global matching challenge to raise money for nonprofits supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. Read here for the latest update.

Racial Injustice | June 2020

The events in the United States have shined a spotlight on the systemic racism and injustices directed at the Black community throughout our nation’s history. In response to the heightened moment of tension playing out in cities across the U.S., the Western Union Foundation committed to making a grant to Race Forward.

Western Union Foundation: Matched employee funds 2:1 and provided a donation to Race Forward

Race Forward: Supported mission to catalyze movement building for racial justice—advancing racial justice in our communities, policies, institutions, and culture.

Lebanon Explosion | August 2020

On August 4th, Beirut, Lebanon experienced a massive explosion that registered as a 3.3 magnitude earthquake.  The explosion not only took lives and injured individuals, but it damaged warehouses holding much needed COVID-19 supplies.

Western Union Foundation: Responded with $60K to the International Medical Corps.

International Medical Corps: Provided critical medical supplies and gap services for vulnerable individuals heavily affected by COVID-19.

Colorado and California Wildfires | August 2020

Wildfires impacted several states, including California and Western Union’s HQ, Colorado.

Western Union Foundation: Provided an initial $20,000 to the American Red Cross and matched employee donations 2:1.

American Red Cross: Provided food, shelter and critical relief supplies to individuals and families affected by the wildfires in California and Colorado.

Hurricane Laura | August 2020

Hurricane Laura crashed into the US Gulf Coast early August 27 as a Category 4 storm. American Red Cross anticipates equal need to that of Hurricane Harvey.

Western Union Foundation: Provided a $50,000 grant to the American Red Cross.

American Red Cross: Provided shelter for those affected by the devastating storms in Louisiana.

Moria Camp Fires | September 2020

More than 12,000 people have been evacuated from the Moria Camp on the island of Lesbos, which was destroyed by fires. Read more about our response here.

Western Union Foundation: Provided an initial $100,000 grant to the International Rescue Committee.

International Rescue Committee: Provided immediate services, including early integration, job readiness training, and self-sufficiency courses as well as long-term advocacy efforts to affect change in EU policies, working towards more humane living conditions for refugees and asylees.

Typhoons Goni & Vamco, Philippines | December 2020

Two typhoons hit the Philippines in a matter of weeks. First was Typhoon Goni, the most powerful tropical cyclone ever to make landfall. Goni was followed by Typhoon Vamco.

Western Union Foundation: Matched employee donations 2:1 to the International Medical Corps.

International Medical Corps: Provided immediate relief and recovery from the super typhoons, including hygiene support to prevent further spread and protection from COVID-19.


Learn more about 2019 disaster response here.