By Lori J. Bertman, president and CEO, Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Family Foundation in Baton Rouge, La., and chairman of the CDP Board of Directors

Knowing what do in a crisis—and when to do it—is one of the issues CDP addresses on our website and in our other services.  We asked one of CDP’s founders, an experienced crisis expert, for her thoughts on what the donor and nonprofit community can do to help over the next few days in particular—as well as during any disaster in general.

Her response:

  • Check on your donors or constituents in harm’s way. What can you do for them? Don’t ask what they can do for you.
  • Reach out to relationships that already were established during down times, and see how you can assist them and what kind of information they can provide. Find an ambassador for your organization that can get you information easily.
  • Work on the time of the people in crisis, not on your own deadlines.
  • If you don’t have relationships with people before the crisis, it’s probably too late to start to build collaborations and coalitions.
  • Have real-time mechanisms set up with a click of a button.
  • Know information that others do not, such as philanthropic and nonprofit data. Be a niche organization.
  • Come down and join the party. Help by being in the action and offering a helping hand, lending your expertise to the situation.
  • Bring cash, send cash, act like you have cash. People will pay attention. Ideas don’t make the water go down.
  • Respect the culture of the community, its way of doing things, and its choices, even if you don’t agree.
  • Never ask for money. You are a resource. Build trust. Money comes later.

What do you think? The Center for Disaster Philanthropy welcomes your thoughts here, or find us on Twitter at @funds4disaster.