This report’s goal is to document the role of the Community Foundation of Greater Birmingham in the disaster recovery process following two tornadoes on April 27, 2011, and January 23, 2012. The storms damaged communities in 43 counties, caused 250 deaths, and destroyed more than 23,000 homes.
What it says
The CFGB report notes several key lessons. The first is that foundations should know their role within the state and region as they begin to respond to recovery needs. The foundation had to form multi-level partnerships with foundations and responding organizations at the community, state, and national level in order to be proactive in helping to shape local and statewide strategies for tornado recovery and preparedness.
The second takeaway is that foundations should reach out nationally for funding. The report states that the CFGB should have strategically discussed with public and national private partners on the best way to gain support and donations at the national level beyond federal funding.
Third, it is important for foundations to coordinate regularly with responding partners and continually assess recovery needs as a group. The report notes that the key to effective coordination among responding agencies in order to reach a complete recovery status was sharing the knowledge of how needs changed over time and an accompanying discussion on those changes.
Why it matters
Funders must recognize that there are evolving needs late into disaster recovery, and sustaining support over months and years following a disaster means tapping into the widest possible network of resources. This includes looking at local, regional, state, and national partners and creatively addressing funding needs at every phase of recovery.
Preparedness needs never go away. The biggest asset to disaster recovery is mitigation and preparation, and donors should consider these needs throughout their charitable giving process.
Organizations with a long-term presence in a community are often the best equipped to effectively address disaster recovery.