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Giving back: 18 first responder charities and organizations

How to support first responders injured in the line of duty, plus recruit education, families of fallen firefighters, and more


A good tip for donating is to never give over the phone and, when in doubt, give locally.


It’s the season for giving. And where better to share the love than with first responder charities?

When making a donation, be aware that there are scams. A good tip for donating is to never give over the phone and, when in doubt, give locally.

In addition, if you would like to learn more about a charity you are interested in supporting, you can get information such as program expense ratios or see lists of achievements at or

Here’s a list of 17 first-responder-specific charities. If we missed one, let us know in the comment section below.

1. National Fallen Firefighters Foundation

You can give any amount to the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation to help support families coping with the loss of a fallen firefighter. Instead of #GivingTuesday, the NFFF uses #FireHeroTuesday for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Their fundraising goal for this year is $35,000. The Presto Foundation will match all donations through Dec. 31 totaling up to $35,000. Donate here.

2. First Responders Children’s Foundation

The foundation works with families across the country, including police, fire, Forest Service, Border Patrol, EMS and all other forms of first responders. They help provide college scholarships to children whose first responders’ parents have either died in the line of duty or have become permanently disabled due to their line of work. Donate here.

3. Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation

The foundation, named after firefighter Stephen Siller, who died on 9/11, helps ease the financial burden of fallen responders’ families by paying off their mortgages or creating trust accounts. All donations go directly to fund this initiative. Donate here.

4. Firehouse Subs Public Safety Foundation

Through donations, the foundation helps provide much-needed equipment and resources to first responders and public safety organizations. In 2019, they were able to give 1,193 sets of bunker gear, 51 thermal imaging cameras, 469 AEDs, 72 extrication tools, 30 all-terrain vehicles and 616 ballistic vests. Donate here.

5. The Leary Firefighters Foundation

The foundation helps provide funding and resources to fire departments in order to obtain equipment, technology and training. Donate here.

6. National EMS Memorial Foundation

The purpose of the foundation is to establish a permanent EMS memorial in Washington, D.C. to honor, recognize and remember the commitment, service and sacrifice of EMS personnel who have died in the line of duty. Donate here.

7. NAEMT Foundation

The foundation’s mission is to better the future of EMS by supporting outreach programs, providing information about EMS careers to young adults, funding EMS-related scholarships and supporting evidence-based EMS research. Donate here.

8. Responder Rescue

Responder Rescue helps provide both emotional and financial assistance to any first responders who have been injured, become ill or suffered a traumatic event. Donate here.

9. National Volunteer Fire Council

A donation to the NVFC will help support legislative efforts, innovative programs, tools and resources to our nation’s volunteer fire and EMS departments. Donate here.

10. Code Green Campaign

The Code Green Campaign is a first responder-oriented mental health advocacy and education organization. Donate here.

11. Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors

The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Alan Breslau, who suffered extensive burns after a commercial plane crash in 1963. The organization is dedicated to empowering individuals that have been affected by a burn injury. Donate here.

12. National Disaster Search Dog Foundation

The National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, a nonprofit organization based in Santa Paula, California, was founded in 1996. The foundation’s mission is to help strengthen disaster response in the U.S. by rescuing and recruiting dogs in order to partner them with firefighters to help find disaster victims. Donate here.

13. The Gary Sinise Foundation

The actor perhaps most famous for his role as “Lt. Dan” in Forrest Gump has been doing great work supporting members of our military for years, but did you know his foundation also supports first responders? Its First Responders Outreach program provides equipment and training to police, fire and EMS agencies. Donate here.

14. Operation Gratitude

This organization sends care packages to military personnel, veterans and first responders as a thank you for their service. Donate here.


Founded in 2014, this organization works with state emergency services and volunteer brigades in Ukraine. It has delivered over 140 tons of life rescue and healthcare aid, according to its website. Donate here.


Founded in 2022, Project Joint Guardian is a group of full-time firefighters from around the world who volunteer their time to help their fellow first responders serve their communities during both human-made and natural disasters. The organization has deployed its 10-person light USAR task force to Ukraine multiple times and has delivered donated firefighting, EMS and rescue equipment to frontline fire departments throughout Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began. Donate here.


This humanitarian group is on a mission to take ambulances and urgently needed medical supplies to Ukraine. Donate here.

18. Folds of Honor Foundation

Folds of Honor is a nonprofit organization that provides educational scholarships for children and spouses of fallen or disabled military servicemembers and first responders. Since 2007, Folds of Honor has awarded approximately 44,000 educational scholarships worth over $200 million. It is rated a four-star charity by Charity Navigator and Platinum on GuideStar. Donate here.

This article was originally posted Nov. 28. 2017. It has been updated with new information.

Sarah Calams, who previously served as associate editor of FireRescue1 and Fire Chief, is the senior editor of and In addition to her regular editing duties, Sarah delves deep into the people and issues that make up the public safety industry to bring insights and lessons learned to first responders everywhere.

Sarah graduated with a bachelor’s degree in news/editorial journalism at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Have a story idea you’d like to discuss? Send Sarah an email or reach out on LinkedIn.