In this kind of catastrophic scenario, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy is here to help you answer these three important questions:
When should you give? How should you give? Where should you give?

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Like many of you, we have been closely following Hurricane Harvey reports—with projections showing that the category 3 hurricane will hit coastal areas of Texas later tonight or early Saturday morning. It is predicted that the storm will slow or stall when it makes landfall, potentially taking flood damage to catastrophic levels. Oil companies in the Gulf have limited production and begun evacuating personnel from platforms and Texas Governor Greg Abbott has already declared a state of emergency for 30 counties.

When to give?
Now is the time to “keep your powder dry.” We still have several hours before Hurricane Harvey makes landfall in the United States. The needs are most assuredly going to be very high along the Gulf Coast—both in Texas as well as Louisiana.

We suggest waiting until more is known about the storm’s impact and actual needs before allocating funds. By pausing for just a short amount of time, we can collectively understand where the unmet needs are, where governmental funds are going to be allocated, and what the key issues of concern are (water, housing, health, etc.). This may involve supporting immediate relief efforts, but we urge you to allocate some of your funds for medium and long-term recovery also. This short pause still means that first-responder organizations can be funded, but also facilitates attention on medium- and long-term recovery needs that will be critical.

How to give?
The Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, a free national resource created by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy in close partnership with the Council of New Jersey Grantmakers, offers sound guidance on how to effectively allocate resources to disasters. It offers a host of strategies that funders can use to help communities. From Housing and Legal Services to Mental Health and Mitigation, the Playbook is an essential resource.

Where to give?
My advice on this question is simple. Consider your organization’s values and priorities when you give to support:

  • Organizations with whom you have existing relationships.
  • Organizations that has a pre-existing presence on the ground.
  • Organizations whose missions and programmatic activities match your foundation’s mission and programmatic activities. Advance your own internal expertise!
  • Issue areas that are unfunded or underfunded. Know what other private funders, governmental bodies, and local communities are prioritizing – and then support issues area outside of those priorities.
  • Vulnerable populations—children, medically dependent, older adults, new Americans, and others.

Finally, I encourage you to leverage the deep expertise of our consulting services team by calling us at (206) 972-0187. The only full-time, national resource dedicated to effective disaster giving, we are here to help you maximize your impact on Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts. Make sure your dollars and efforts reach as far as possible with our wide range of consulting services including collaborative disaster funds, disaster grants management, strategic planning, research & analysis, and technical assistance.