Disaster Grantmaking

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has an excellent primer of basic tips for disaster giving that can help funders ask the right questions about how they can help.

The second a disaster strikes, it is a terrible situation; something you cannot imagine. The next few minutes, hours, days, and weeks could be worse. The good news is, with the right collaborative team in place, they can be better.

Immediately after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, people feared a tsunami might be triggered on the San Mateo County coast, a beautiful area south of San Francisco that includes numerous small towns, rural farmland and redwood forests. Fortunately, a tsunami did not materialize. But a warning was issued and the community sprang into action – with many people later reporting that they were confused about what to do, where to go, and how real the danger was. Silicon Valley Community Foundation’s board of directors commissioned a study of this community response.

The physical and emotional landscape of our community was forever changed on March 22, 2014, when a devastating mudslide swept through our community and took the lives 43 of our neighbors. The Darrington, Arlington and Oso communities are located in rural Snohomish County, north of Seattle.

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.