Disaster Grantmaking

The guide aims to inspire individuals and citizen groups to act in organized, effective ways to help people in communities hit by disasters to reclaim their future. It includes concrete suggestions and clear steps towards recovering, rebuilding and re-establishing a sense of security, safety and vitality in these communities. Through models of successful past recovery efforts and widsom from survivors, From Chaos to Community will help those affected by disaster join together, rebuild, and even pay forward their experience to survivors of future disasters as they tackle their own challenges.

In the aftermath of a natural disaster, corporate grantmakers often wish to address the needs of employees and the community at large. Grantmakers must understand the legal rules that govern disaster grantmaking. This article provides answers to many common questions on providing disaster relief.

Grantmakers should be advised that Hurricane Sandy is a “qualified disaster” for federal tax purposes. Under IRS rules, this means that employers may more easily assist employees affected by the disaster. Employers and their related foundations may make payments for reasonable and necessary personal, family, living, or funeral expenses, and reasonable and necessary expenses incurred for the repair or rehabilitation of a personal residence or its contents. Such payments will not be treated as taxable income to the affected employees.

Hurricane Sandy has once again brought disasters—and the desire to help—to the forefront. Media attention has been critical to the nation’s preparedness efforts and in bringing immediate relief to affected communities. But lives will be impacted long after the storm has passed and media attention has faded. This is where private philanthropy can do its best work. It is critically important to long-term recovery because of its flexibility, ability to be forward thinking in every funding area, and capacity to complement public dollars.