A List of Charities Supporting Morocco Earthquake Victims
On September 8th, 2023, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake struck Morocco. The earthquake was centered in the Atlas Mountains, about 50 miles southwest of Marrakech. Moroccan authorities are struggling to meet the needs of the devastated population, and have been slow to accept foreign aid. This leaves NGOs as a vital lifeline for the hundreds of thousands of affected civilians.
Donating to trusted charitable causes and non-profit organizations is the best way to support people affected by the disaster. We’ve listed organizations that either have teams on the ground or are supporting partner organizations with vital funding or supplies. We’ve also included a few actionable tips to help you avoid fraud and stay safe while you donate.
A large earthquake has devastated parts of western Morocco, creating an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation. With an initial shock measured at 6.8 on the Richter scale, it’s the nation’s largest earthquake in 120 years.
The quake began at 11:11 p.m. local time on Friday, September 8th, 2023, with its epicenter near Adassil in the High Atlas mountain range, a remote region 72 kilometers (44.7 miles) southwest of Marrakech.
The effects have been felt as far north as Casablanca and over 300,000 civilians in Marrakech and its surrounding area are impacted. However, remote parts of the High Atlas mountains are the worst affected, and some settlements there may be almost entirely destroyed.
First responders have struggled to reach these communities with aid because fallen rocks and other debris have been blocking mountain roads.
According to an official update from Morocco's Interior Ministry, as of September 12th, 2023, 2,901 people were reported dead and 5,530 injured. However, these figures were expected to rise as first responders reached more remote communities.
Earlier reports from Moroccan authorities state that the Al Haouz province — a region of 570,000 people — accounts for over 50% of the reported deaths. Two more provinces that overlap the Atlas Mountains, Taroudant and Chichaoua, are the second- and third-worst affected provinces. At least 17 people are dead in the city of Marrakech.
The Moroccan army has mobilized search and rescue teams and, in addition to three days of national mourning, King Mohammed VI has ordered water, food, and temporary shelter to be sent to those who’ve lost their homes. He also ordered that homes be rebuilt, prioritizing those of the most vulnerable people.
The Moroccan government has accepted aid from four countries, including Britain, Spain, Qatar, and the UAE, but authorities still haven’t made an international appeal for help. This means that under-resourced local teams are largely leading efforts in remote areas, and vital aid from other countries and organizations can’t be accessed.
Moroccan authorities made bilateral contact with a few select nations over the weekend following the disaster to green-light the provision of aid and rescue teams.
Spain and the UK have sent search-and-rescue teams, while Qatar’s state media reports the nation has deployed rescue teams, medical aid, and specialized vehicles. Several NGOs are also helping.
But by Sunday, September 10, numerous governments and aid groups, including France, Germany, Italy, and the United States, were still waiting for permission to enter the country. According to Rescuers Without Borders, around 100 UN-registered rescue teams were on standby.
Morocco’s decision to only accept aid from “friendly countries” has impacted its disaster response. With official support in some places practically non-existent, locals resort to digging people from the rubble using only shovels or their bare hands and driving victims to the hospital themselves. Without shelter, people sleep in the streets under make-shift tents. In some remote settlements, people have been running out of food, water, and sanitary supplies.
Stanford University’s Moroccan-American historian, Samia Errazzouki, summed up the tragedy of Morocco’s “heavily controlled and centralized” approach in an interview:
“The immediate hours of any natural disaster are the most crucial,” she said, yet the government's response has been slow, disorganized, and insufficient. “How many lives could have been saved?”
Sylvie Brunel, a geography professor who formerly worked for the non-profit Action Against Hunger, claimed while speaking to Le Figaro that Morocco is refusing aid because it wants to show that it is “sovereign, capable of piloting its own search and rescue” and not a “poor wounded country that the whole world wants to charitably save.”
While the Moroccan government may have legitimate reasons for being selective in the aid it allows, the fact remains that hundreds of thousands of innocent people are in desperate need. Donating to NGOs who are active in Morocco is the best way to get help to them.
Moroccan Charities and Non-profits
1. Bank Al-Maghrib
Type of Aid Provided: Emergency Aid
While not a charitable organization in and of itself, Morocco’s central bank, Bank Al-Maghrib (BAM), has launched an appeal to support the nation’s “Special Fund for managing the effects of the earthquake that hit the Kingdom of Morocco.” This is the Moroccan government’s central fundraising effort to support the disaster response.
The bank has opened an account for the fund and locals can donate at Bank Al-Maghrib branches, the General Treasury of the Kingdom, and various other commercial banks. For international transfers, the bank provides its IBAN and SWIFT codes at its site. The bank has said it will not charge transfer fees to the earthquake fund, whether they are local or international.
2. Banque Alimentaire du Maroc (Morocco Food Bank)
Types of Aid Provided: Food, Essential Supplies
Founded in 2002, the Banque Alimentaire du Maroc (Morocco Food Bank) is a non-profit organization that aims to provide food assistance to some 200+ partners throughout Morocco. In response to the earthquake, it’s working to provide emergency food aid to victims. The organization is also procuring other much-needed essential supplies, including beds, blankets, and warm clothing. You can help support the organization at its donation page.
3. Eve Branson Foundation
Types of Aid Provided: Shelter, Food, Water, Medical Aid, Fuel, Long-term Recovery
The Eve Branson Foundation is based in Morocco and is spearheaded by Eve Branson (mother of business magnate Richard Branson). The charity’s mission is to develop the High Atlas region by providing locals with sustainable opportunities, but it has turned its attention to providing immediate aid following the quake.
The organization is coordinating its response with partners to provide both emergency aid and long-term support to those affected. It’s currently helping provide food, water, fuel, medical aid, and shelter to locals. In the future, the organization will rebuild and restore damaged homes and infrastructure, along with other forms of recovery assistance. You can donate to the organization’s Morocco Earthquake Response Fund here.
4. High Atlas Foundation
Types of Aid Provided: Shelter, Food, Water, Medical Aid, Transport, Long-term Recovery
Founded by Peace Corps volunteers in Morocco, the High Atlas Foundation is an NGO that’s primarily focused on sustainable development. Following the earthquake, the organization has created a fund to help save the mountain communities it has been supporting for over 20 years.
The High Atlas Foundation offers direct emergency assistance to communities within the High Atlas Mountains, including the distribution of essential supplies like blankets, shelter, and non-perishable foods. The foundation is currently focused on rapidly reaching mountain areas with aid, but is also committed to providing long-term support to rebuild High Atlas settlements.
To support the organization’s efforts, you can donate to its Earthquake Relief for Moroccan Communities fund.
5. The Moroccan Red Crescent
Types of Aid Provided: Search and Rescue, Essential Supplies, Medical Aid, Psychosocial Support, Transportation
The Moroccan Red Crescent (MRCS) is a local humanitarian organization that’s part of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), a global network of disaster relief organizations.
The Moroccan Red Crescent (MRCS) has deployed teams that are providing direct relief to people affected by the disaster in central Morocco. The organization is working with local authorities and the IFRC to strategize, support search and rescue efforts, and provide humanitarian assistance by offering essential supplies, first aid, psychosocial support, and emergency transportation services. You can donate to its earthquake fund here.
International Charities and Non-profits
6. Direct Relief
Type of Aid Provided: Medical Aid
Direct Relief is a US non-profit that aims to provide health professionals in communities faced with hardship with the resources they need, both locally and in crisis zones around the world. In Morocco, Direct Relief is cooperating with local authorities and organizations to support the humanitarian operation and assess immediate medical needs.
Direct Relief has established partnerships with several Moroccan organizations, including the Ministry of Public Health, International Office of Migration, Society of Critical Care Medicine, Foundation Lalla Salma, and Eli Lilly. It’s leveraging these connections to support Morocco’s needs assessment and has offered its inventory of medical supplies to organizations that are on the ground. In addition, Direct Relief has also pledged $100,000 to Search and Rescue efforts in Morocco.
Direct Relief takes donations that fund all of its charitable activities via its donation page.
7. Doctors Without Borders
Type of Aid Provided: Medical Aid
Also known as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Doctors Without Borders is an NGO that supports people with humanitarian aid during disease outbreaks, conflicts, and natural disasters. Its focus is on providing those in crisis with medical care.
The organization is working with local authorities, the military, and Red Crescent volunteers to help provide medical assistance to people affected by the earthquake. It has teams assessing medical needs south of Marrakech. You can donate to Doctors Without Borders via the organization’s website.
Types of Aid Provided: Shelter, Food, Water, Medical Aid, Psychosocial Support, Economic Relief, Long-term Recovery
GlobalGiving is a non-profit fundraising platform that connects donors with charitable causes. Founded in 2002, the organization has so far helped raise over $850 million in funding for projects in more than 175 countries.
The organization has launched the Morocco Earthquake Relief Fund to help provide both emergency aid and long-term recovery assistance to communities throughout southwest Morocco. The fund’s immediate focus is on offering essential food, water, shelter, psychosocial support, and medical aid to victims.
Type of Aid Provided: Verified Fundraisers
GoFundMe is a popular crowdfunding platform that allows users to find and donate to charitable causes. Fundraisers on GoFundMe are often created by individuals or small groups. The platform enables them to reach and engage an audience by sharing personal, often emotional, stories in an appeal for help funding a project.
GoFundMe has created a list of verified funds that you can support to directly help earthquake victims in Morocco. This means that the funds have been vetted by the site’s Trust & Safety experts and can be trusted 100%.
10. Human Appeal
Types of Aid Provided: Food, Water, Medical Aid, Essential Supplies
The UK-based non-profit Human Appeal fights poverty, social injustice, and the effects of natural disasters in countries around the world. It adopts a holistic approach to humanitarian aid, with programs aimed at immediate needs alongside those focused on long-term forms of support.
Human Appeal has over 32 years of experience working in Morocco and has nurtured strong partnerships with local organizations over the past 5+ years. It’s in cooperation with these partners to deliver essential humanitarian assistance to affected people via its Morocco Earthquake Appeal. Specifically, the organization is providing emergency kits that include water, food, medical aid, and other essential supplies.
11. The Intrepid Foundation
Types of Aid Provided: Shelter, Food, Water, Medical Aid
The Australian travel company Intrepid Travel created its philanthropic arm, the Intrepid Foundation, in 2002. It allows travelers to support the organization’s partners in the places they visit.
The foundation is working with two Moroccan organizations, the High Atlas Foundation and Education For All, to help provide food, water, shelter, medical aid, and other forms of assistance to victims in the disaster zone. People can donate via the organization’s Morocco Earthquake Appeal, where Intrepid will match any donations up to AU$100,000 (US$64,000)
12. World Central Kitchen
Types of Aid Provided: Food, Water
Founded by Chef José Andrés in response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake, World Central Kitchen (WCK) delivers fresh meals to disaster zones around the world. Its focus is on reaching those in need with nourishment quickly and effectively.
The organization is supplying desperate communities in Morocco with immediate food assistance, including the provision of sandwiches, fruit, and water. It’s also sending a team from Spain with food trucks and kitchen equipment to start cooking fresh meals in affected areas as quickly as possible. You can donate via the charity’s donation page.
Tips for Avoiding Charity Scams
Charity scams are prevalent whenever there’s a major disaster. Fraudsters capitalize on the global outpouring of support to trick people into donating to fake charities or fundraisers. Unfortunately, this money eventually ends up in criminals’ pockets rather than with those who need it most.
Scammers may target people using fake crowdfunding pages, donation sites, or phishing calls or messages. They rely on people making quick, uninformed donations. Thankfully, there are a few steps you can take to avoid charity scams:
- Donate to a well-known and respected charity. Widely recognized charities have a body of work that speaks for itself. You can trust all of the charities on our list.
- Research non-profits before you donate. BBB Wise Giving, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch are three online tools that review charities. To check whether US charities are legitimate, you can see if they’re listed in the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search. You can also look up user reviews of the organization by searching its name alongside terms like “review,” “fraud,” “scam,” or “complaint.”
- Don’t let someone rush you into donating. A legitimate non-profit would never pressure you to donate, but a scammer would. Before you donate, take your time and research the organization.
- Beware of making donations over the phone. Some charities do reach out to people over the phone, but this is also a method commonly adopted by scammers. Do your research before you donate over the phone.
- Don’t click on links or attachments in emails to donate. These could take you to phishing sites or contain malware that attempts to defraud you, steal your information, or cause other harm.
- Only use credit cards or checks for donations. These forms of payment are traceable. However, wire transfers and gift cards are not, and crypto donations can also be hard to track. Avoid using these forms of payment.
- Avoid donating through money transfer apps. Scammers often ask for donations through these platforms.
The Bottom Line
The organizations in this list are doing crucial work to save lives and support people affected by the earthquake, whether that’s through search and rescue efforts, delivering humanitarian aid, or other forms of assistance.
The work of many of these organizations does not stop in the immediate weeks or even months after the earthquake. Moroccans who’ve lost everything to this tragedy may need assistance into 2025 and beyond. Help securing shelter, psychosocial support, and community development are some of the long-term services offered during disaster response.
Supporting charities and non-profits in Morocco is crucial in the earthquake’s immediate aftermath, as well as throughout the country’s longer recovery. Your immediate support can help save lives today, and your continued support can improve people’s lives for years to come as they try to return to some level of normalcy.