This chapter of Mastering Foundation Law reviews how U.S. public charities, private foundations, and corporations can provide hardship relief funding to communities and individuals, including to employees of a particular company, in the wake of natural and man-made disasters.
Foundations often play an essential role in disaster relief and recovery. In addition to funding, grantmakers can offer support in other ways by leveraging their experience and expertise to help organizations and civic leaders in all three stages of the post disaster environment:
- Immediate Relief: In the initial aftermath of a disaster, foundations, government agencies, nonprofit service organizations and volunteers rally to provide food, shelter, water, medical care, and clothing to survivors, and to account for the deceased.
- Short-term Recovery: Press coverage and donations peak during the immediate relief stage. However, just when public attention begins to wane, critical recovery work begins. Philanthropic investments help provide continued health and social services, including provision of safe drinking water, temporary or transitional shelter, sanitation facilities, and other services for survivors and their dependents.
- Long-term Rebuilding: In many communities hit by disaster, it takes several years to rebuild physical infrastructure, restore the natural environment, and rehabilitate the lives of those who are among the hardest hit. In this stage, funders play a key role by making strategic investments that can address chronic social and environmental challenges in the impacted community.
The Council provides resources to help members effectively respond to domestic and international disasters.
In-Depth knowledge on Disaster Grantmaking
Give2Asia's report looks at 15 years of its grantmaking to understand giving patterns, program impact, and opportunities in the philanthropy sector.
You may wonder whether you can make grants to GoFundMe campaigns that are supporting localized efforts during disasters. Proceed cautiously: GoFundMe and many similar crowdfunding platforms are not registered 501(c)3 public charities, and therefore you need to examine carefully whether the campaigns hosted on these sites are charitable in nature.
It is an unfortunate reality of our times that all too often foundations are needed to respond to mass casualty events in their communities. Here are a few resources from foundations about how they responded and what lessons they learned along the way.
This Community Foundations of Canada resource provides insight into the unique role of a community foundation and outlines key ways they can contribute to supporting their community in the event of a disaster.
Recovery, rebuilding, and healing after a disaster know no timetable. However, small and big acts can ease the suffering of the survivors and help build stronger and more resilient communities. We just have to pay attention to the lessons learned by those who have already been through it.
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.
This web based tool is a central location for State/Local/Tribal governments, emergency managers, and planners to view programs from Federal, State, For-Profit, Non-Profit, and Charitable entities.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has compiled a useful summary of disaster resources for corporate foundations and giving programs.
Options for private foundations for disaster grantmaking