Disasters bring out the best in people. Donations to charities surge as television coverage increases. Yet we know from experience that both coordination and effective spending of donor dollars is a particular challenge, not just while the disaster is underway, but also in the long-term, as rebuilding begins. As families and communities begin to clean up and consider how long their power will be out, private philanthropists turn their attention to the question, “How can I help?”
Center for Disaster Philanthropy offers these basic tips for disaster giving:
- Take the long view: Even while focusing on immediate needs, remember that it will take some time for the full range of needs to emerge.
- Recognize that there are places private philanthropy can help that government agencies might not: With the increase in extreme weather events, the government cannot fully fund recovery.
- All funders are disaster philanthropists: Even if your organization does not work in a particular geographic area or fund immediate relief efforts, you can look for ways to tie disaster funding into your existing mission.
- Support the sharing of best practices: Florida, for example, has developed stringent building codes to mitigate destruction from hurricanes.
- Connect with other funders: Collaborative philanthropic response to the disaster leverages combined expertise and maximizes the value of the human, financial, and technical resources donated.
- Look to past disasters for guidance: There are often lessons learned that could be used to create better policy and procedure.
- Ask the experts: If you are considering supporting an organization that is positioned to work in an affected area, do some research.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy, National Volunteer Organizations Active in Disasters, and Interaction have lists of organizations working in affected communities. What’s more, local community foundations have insights into NGOs that are best suited to respond in a particular community.
Visit CDP’s website to explore more information on notable funding and research.
Disaster Relief is a complex topic, and others found these selections from the Impact Giving archive from Giving Compass to be good resources.
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If you are interested in Disaster Relief, please see these relevant Issue Funds, Charitable Organizations or Projects where you can get involved.