Disaster Grantmaking

As our nation sits and watches the devastation in Oklahoma following a series of tornadoes this week, I was reminded of a conversation I had with Jennifer Lammers, the new Program Director for the Alliance for Nonprofit Management, about an article she wrote following the 9/11 attacks. She referenced the piece during a call with a group of funders and nonprofits to discuss the establishment of Boston’s One Fund.

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.