In 2019, the U.S. has experienced 10 billion-dollar natural disasters. Three of those disasters were floods in the Midwest along the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas rivers. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy recently convened experts to discuss ways philanthropy can help these affected areas. Read the recap below or view the full webinar.

Why Should Donors Be Concerned About the 2019 Midwest Flooding?

While the flooding started in spring of 2019, record-breaking precipitation began in fall 2018. In addition, the spring flooding did not recede quickly and high water levels even now paint a bleak picture for winter. In the first two weeks of September, the Missouri river basin saw 400% more rainfall than average. Early indications suggest that winter and spring of 2020 will bring above average precipitation to a region that can't afford to see average precipitation.

Damage to private property, infrastructure, and crops is compounded by the sustained high water levels. Water delays reconstruction and prevents farmers from planting and harvesting crops. As winter comes, snow will fall on top of water that will freeze into ice, ensuring a wet spring. All together, these losses and threats present a massive challenge for the region and an opportunity for funders to make a difference.

Funding Strategies for the Midwest:

Funders should take time to figure out which strategy best matches their philanthropic goals and assets. Consider these factors as you build your strategy:

Timeline: There is a need for short, medium, and long-term investment. No matter the winter and spring precipitation, the spring will be wet. Preparations should begin now.

Collaboration: Are there partners that could help you plan and/or execute your giving? Local organizations and funders can help to connect outsiders to the most pressing needs on the ground.

Agility: One of the benefits of philanthropic intervention over government support is agility. Can you streamline grantmaking and better respond to developing needs on the ground? Now is the time to make the most of your philanthropy by being nimble.

Vulnerable People: Sick, elderly, and disabled people struggle to cope with the challenges of natural disasters. Marginalized communities, including low-income areas and communities of color, are more likely to be heavily impacted by floods and less likely to receive government support. Philanthropy can fill gaps and help increase equity, which usually decreases in the wake of disasters.

Where Should Donors Give to Make an Impact:

Read CDP's Basic Tips for Disaster Giving for a quick overview of best practices. For a deeper dive, review the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook. To specifically address flood-related problems, give to community foundations like the Nebraska Community Foundation or CDP’s Midwest Early Recovery Fund. These intermediaries will direct your donations based on the needs of communities on the ground through local organizations.

Another option is to make contact directly with small local organizations that are already familiar with the needs and assets of the communities. Keep the advice of the experts referenced here in mind when you choose your strategy and organization(s).

View the full webinar at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.