Disaster Grantmaking

Just a few days after an EF4 tornado tore through Central Arkansas on April 27, 2014, I drove to the community hardest hit by the storm - Vilonia, Arkansas - to meet with community leaders about beginning the process of long-term recovery. On the outskirts of town, I saw the familiar scene that anyone familiar with Vilonia would know. But then I entered downtown.

Guy David Gundlach’s story of philanthropy is unique. This is not your typical planned giving story involving a long relationship between a donor and a charitable organization resulting in an estate gift dedicated to a specific cause. It is the story of a businessman with global interests who left the vast majority of his entire estate, totaling nearly $150 million, to his hometown of Elkhart, Indiana through the community foundation.

In this weeks issue: WINGSForum 2014, The Council and Commonfund Study Private Foundation Investments, Don't Miss Out on Philanthropy Exchange, President Obama Announces Climate Data Initiative, Tweet of the Week

As we approach the third anniversary of the March 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami, many consider the damage and devastation ‘old news.’ But the recovery from this terrible disaster is far from over, even as assistance, aid, and attention subside. Join the Council and the Environmental Grantmakers Association for an important webinar on January 29, 2014 from 2:00 – 3:30 pm Eastern that will update the philanthropic community on the recovery from this disaster and outline the lasting environmental damage and effects that continue to face Japan.

Typhoon Haiyan was one of the worst disasters to hit the Philippines in decades. This webinar was conducted one month after the Super Typhoon made landfall, killing more than 5,000 and causing billions in damages. Representatives from the Philippines Embassy in Washington, DC, Accenture, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Emergency Response discussed assessments made about the known long-term needs, and the needs that may emerge in the months and years to come.

There is a Toby Keith song with the lyrics, “I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.” With each catastrophic disaster, I am reminded of this song. I was an emergency responder following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and continue to work towards the Gulf’s recovery. It is predicted that the books will not be closed on that storm until 2026. Back then, I had no idea how long the road to recovery would be. I often wish I didn't know now relief is just the beginning and taking the long view is much harder. We must implement the lessons we learned that allow us to take the longer – and sometimes harder – view. So let us try a new approach with Typhoon Haiyan, and implement these lessons of recovery, rebuilding, and preparation.