After a disaster, many people – including funders – have the desire to help and want to respond quickly. But they don’t always know who is responding or how to make the best use of their funds. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is often asked for input to help funders understand which local, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are responding and which established funds to consider for support. We also have several clients for whom we provide this information on a contractual basis, as well as supporting Google when they raise funds.
We appreciate the desire of both individual donors and philanthropic organizations to help and know that discerning which organization is likely to make the most effective use of their money is a big challenge. While we have always had an informal process and method to make recommendations, we have recently established formal guidelines to make it clearer for NGOs and donors to understand our practice.
A few key points to note and then I encourage you to read the full guidelines more thoroughly.
- Relationship Building: This is a vital aspect of this work as getting to know an organization in blue sky (non-disaster) times lets us learn about their work and activities. This helps us provide a more complete picture of an organization and its response/recovery activities to funders.
- Knowing Who’s Doing What Where: We rely on organizations to notify us that they are responding as soon as possible since our first list generally goes to clients 24-48 hours after a disaster. While we conduct more detailed research to gain as comprehensive lay of the land as possible for the lists at one week and one-month post-disaster, that early list is created quickly. Each of our clients is provided with a range of options when possible; we try to avoid being a “king maker” for any single organization.
- Pre-Check Helps Facilitate the Process: CDP has recently started a process whereby it conducts due diligence on organizations that regularly respond to disasters in the U.S. and around the world. Think of it as the disaster version of TSA’s Pre-Check for airline passengers. Ours requires one fairly quick registration process and then annual updates. Learn more about it at CDP Pre-Check.
CDP was formed to help donors be more strategic and effective with their donations and to help focus on the need for disaster recovery support. I believe that these guidelines help us give philanthropy – whether individual donors or corporate, family or community foundations – an opportunity to invest in communities and to build equitable recovery after disasters.