Wednesday, November 13, 2013
In the early days following a disaster, philanthropists naturally want to take action. With communities broken and people suffering, the call to give is compelling. If ever philanthropy should step up to help, many donors believe, it is in such times of dire and unexpected need.
Experienced donors often take pains to respond thoughtfully as well as quickly in crisis situations. Crisis philanthropy is no different than any other kind of giving. Donors benefit by gaining clarity about their values and motivations, their goals, their strategy, the ability to define and measure success and by thinking proactively about where they can find allies and partners.
The key to crisis giving is process, not panic. To this end, we offer a few thoughts to consider — a way for you to leverage the best practices developed by other philanthropists over the years.
1. Reach out to communicate — Donors can be active in seeking out local partners and NGOs already working in the disaster zone, not only to find out what is going on and what people need, but to ask if their ideas for philanthropic support might be useful.
2. Collaborate — Duplication, waste and poor prioritizing are among the pitfalls for funders who don’t work well with others. It’s worth remembering that philanthropy can play a unifying role in these situations, bringing together key actors across sectors.
3. Consider the Longer Term — Often, an effective approach is to split funding — initially supporting the capacity of groups that are already mobilized and deferring part of a grant for weeks or months to see what important needs remain after the first wave of relief aid.
Our hearts and thoughts go out to those affected by Typhoon Haiyan. For donors who want to respond, there are many organizations that can use support, including the American Red Cross, UNICEF and Doctors Without Borders. The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is working closely already with both local NGOs and the larger international NGOs who have a presence on the ground — Save the Children, Oxfam and World Vision, to name a few.
The Council on Foundations and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy are partnering to bring together NGOs, funders, government officials and others interested in hearing from-the-ground reports, learning about the emerging needs, and identifying opportunities to help. And for additional guidance on how best to help, visit The Center for High Impact Philanthropy’s website.
It’s impossible to predict exactly how a region will bounce back from adversity or what aid will be most effective, but one thing is certain: philanthropy has a role to play in recovering from every disaster. And donors who balance courage with prudence will always contribute to those efforts.
This information is excerpted from Giving Strategically After Disaster: 10 Things to Consider, a guide in RPA’s Philanthropy Roadmap series.
This piece originally appeared on the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors website on November 12, 2013 and is reprinted with permission.