A New Year’s resolution for a better future

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

A new year, a new beginning. Or so the saying goes. A time at which we, collectively, bid adieu to old habits or problems and start afresh.

However, as with many New Year’s resolutions, we often find ourselves forgetful as the months pass. Habits resurface, aspirations recede, and life goes on.

But for donors and grantmakers, devastating disasters and the need for equitable disaster recovery give these resolutions a different level of urgency. We should not, cannot afford to forget.

At the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, ongoing work to chart what the next three years will look like for the organization under a new strategic plan inspires my New Year’s resolution for 2023.

In disasters, it’s not just about the beginning.

When we think of disasters, we focus on the natural hazard or the precipitating political or military event. While an antithesis to celebrating a new year, we similarly mark disaster events – the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Ian or the recent storms in California. With laser focus at the beginning of a disaster, we are generous with our time, funds and empathy.

Though welcomed, this focus on the beginning isn’t enough for those affected by natural hazards or living in humanitarian crises. According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, more than 103 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide by conflict, violence or disasters, with over half this number displaced within their own countries. In 2022, there were 18 weather/climate disaster events, with losses in each of over $1 billion, in the U.S. alone, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Operation found that the average length of displacement is 20 years for refugees and 10 for those internally displaced. All told, a lot of New Years.

Climate change, conflict and hunger continue to increase communities’ vulnerabilities worldwide. These affected communities – especially those already at-risk because of systemic inequities and injustice on a “good day” – need us to persevere, retain our attention and support their ability to recover equitably and withstand future disasters. They need us to think long-term.

A New Year’s resolution

CDP is at the cusp of a new strategic plan that will guide our work for the next three years. As we define what the implementation of this new plan might look like, in our goal to be our best, I share three pledges that will guide us along the way:

  1. We will build on our successes and what we’ve learned from our grantee partners, donors and other experts to continue advancing the equitable and long-term recovery of marginalized communities.
  2. We will be guided by integrity, humility, empathy, boldness and innovationorganizational values that CDP staff and board members adopted in November 2022.
  3. We will center marginalized communities and their recovery in our work and encourage philanthropy to do likewise.

There are no certainties in how the promises we make ourselves – personal or professional – will turn out beyond the early days of 2023. Regretfully, there is a level of certitude on how the year will unfold for those recovering from prior disasters or those to come.

I welcome you to join CDP in making a common resolution for this year and those to come: Help communities thrive after a disaster. And like a life coach or motivating friend aiding with shared accountability to annual resolutions, we at CDP are here for you, committed to being your strategic partner in your efforts to be a more effective disaster philanthropist.