We would like to extend our sincere thoughts and support to all of those who have been impacted by Hurricane Ian. As philanthropists, we know that you’re already looking for ways you can lend a helping hand to the communities that have been devastated by this historic storm.
In times of extreme challenge, we need to come together in support of each other and our neighbors, so to save you time, we have provided links to additional resources to help those who have been affected. We also recommend checking in with your local and regional agencies regarding safety measures.
- Centers for Disease Control:
- Hurricanes and COVID-19 (See “Stay Safe After the Hurricane”)
- Stay Safe After a Hurricane or Other Tropical Storm
- Department of Homeland Security:
4 Tips On Giving In Times of Crisis:
#1: Recognize That Disaster is Different
There are two things to consider when responding to a crisis: addressing the emergency and supporting the long-term recovery of a region and its people. In the immediate aftermath of an event, it’s important for funders to be flexible in their vetting process when it comes to finding the organizations that are best equipped to deliver relief. Looking at a newer organization’s leadership, relevant experience, their mission and plan to achieve their goals may all be good indicators of future success.
#2: Consider Individual Grants
Did you know philanthropists with private foundations can grant directly to individuals? Rather than relying on a charity to make the determination, the foundation has more control over who gets the grant. Plus, it allows the money to make an immediate difference for a person or family who needs it. And unlike some individual grants that require advance approval from the IRS, disaster relief and hardship assistance do not require this. In these cases, the IRS requires philanthropists to choose grant recipients from an open-ended group of individuals after an assessment of their need.
#3: Run the Charity Like a Business
To be really effective, especially in a disaster, charities must run their organization like a business, including drawing on aspects of proven business methods like Hewlett Packard’s Good to Great or Toyota’s famed Production System. As in business, it’s inefficient to duplicate efforts. So, by working with other people or organizations with different skills, abilities, or resources, charities can stretch donor dollars further and make a bigger impact. In a disaster, successful charities have a ruthless, laser-focus on outcomes, and the nimbleness to adapt to quickly changing circumstances. Also, like a business, charities must have the appropriate accounting controls in place. Not only does this allow for a more efficient organization, but such processes can also show donors that the charity is running the organization with proven and standardized methods that can lead to better transparency and impact. Emerging charities might also start looking for ways to scale their activities, in order to help as many individuals or communities as possible, once they’ve landed on an aid delivery model that works.
#4: Be Patient and Understand the Full Disaster Cycle
Media attention moves on from an initial crisis quickly, and both potential donors and the general public may tire of hearing about a crisis while a need still exists. Meanwhile, concerned citizens tend to give in the early days, but that inclination doesn’t sustain the impact across the entire cycle. To truly make a difference, charities and their funders must think about how to rebuild the community in a more resilient way—and that requires a longer-term view. A charity involved in rebuilding houses after a natural disaster, for example, will focus on construction that withstands future perils, even if doing so costs a little bit more. That’s particularly important in disadvantaged communities that may have been more susceptible to destruction from disaster. Charities that recognize the significance of building resilience into every stage of recovery can help those communities be better prepared when the next unexpected situation occurs. And that readiness minimizes the need for future disaster assistance.
The Disaster Lifecycle
There are several stages of disaster and crisis response. By directing funds across the lifecycle, you may be able to achieve greater impact with your assets and reduce the likelihood of recurrence while also aligning your response with your values and giving priorities.
According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, there are four key stages in responding effectively to critical situations.
- Response and Relief – the stage during or immediately following an emergency. Often with a focus on saving lives, preventing further damage and providing basic human services. This stage typically draws the most attention from the media and the most funding.
- Reconstruction and Recovery – the stage after damage has been assessed, including longer-term efforts to restore a community or country to pre-disaster state. It may also focus on mitigating future disasters. This work typically begins after the event no longer dominates the news cycle and is often more expensive than relief, and overlooked and underfunded by public charities, private philanthropists and insurance companies.
- Mitigation – more strategic work designed to cure factors leading or contributing to emergencies and limit the impact of similar events in the future. This stage requires hazard risk analysis and the investment of time and resources to build resilience and reduce risk. Activities may include strengthening existing infrastructure and developing redundant processes.
- Preparedness – another strategic phase, involving detailed plans that will help people and areas respond effectively to disasters or crises. Activities may include planning exercises, training and educating volunteers, identifying evacuation routes and partners, stocking food, water and other basic necessities.
For more information, click here.
Here are some helpful links:
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Save the Children
Resources to evaluate charities:
Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance Through Charitable Organizations: https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p3833.pdf