The island nation of Haiti has been dealt yet another devasting blow.

While details are still emerging, we know that an M7.2 earthquake struck the southwest of Haiti early yesterday morning. Based on the similarities between this earthquake and the destructive quake in 2010, the damage from today’s earthquake is likely to be similar. Furthermore, Tropical Storm Grace is heading directly toward Haiti, expecting to land on the island of Hispanola (home to Haiti and the Dominican Republic) on Monday or Tuesday. Add to these events the recent assassination of President Jovenel Moise, and the situation in Haiti is not just concerning; it is catastrophic.

In the United States, disaster giving is quick and largely reactive. We know that within a month following a disaster, over a third of private giving is complete. Within two months following a disaster, over two-thirds of private giving is complete. Sadly, our data show that by six months following an event, all private giving stops.

My plea for philanthropy is to use the muscle memory that we have gained since that 2010 earthquake struck:

  • 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. Power loss, transportation outages and flood-damaged homes may be top of mind, but it takes a while to truly understand the impact that the disaster has had on people’s lives.
  • Recognize there are places private philanthropy can help that government agencies might not. With the increase in extreme weather events, governments cannot fully fund recovery. Therefore, private funders have opportunities to develop innovative solutions to help with recovery efforts and to prevent or mitigate future disasters that the government cannot execute.
  • All funders are disaster philanthropists. If you focus on education, health, children or vulnerable populations, disasters present prime opportunities.
  • 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. Consider funding disaster risk-reduction research or projects that could inform more effective disaster preparation and response policy.

Read the full article about supporting communities in Haiti by Regine A. Webster at The Center for Disaster Philanthropy.