December a Time To Look Back and Then Forward

December marks the end of 2014, and gives those of us at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy a moment to look back at the year and reflect on accomplishments and the tasks ahead of us. We are grateful for your support and interest in our work.
December also marks the end of the normal hurricane season in both the Atlantic and Pacific basins. We were fortunate this year, at least to this point, that there was not an enormous hurricane or typhoon disaster. As we write this, Typhoon Hagupit is intensifying in the Pacific Ocean, with a possible track across the Philippines during the coming days. Last year, we were not so fortunate, with Typhoon Haiyan hitting the Philippines on Nov. 8. The category 5 storm caused 6,300 deaths, injured at least 27,000, and displaced more than 4.1 million. We responded to this catastrophe by working with over 50 donors in creating the CDP Cyclone Haiyan Fund – focusing on longterm recovery and resilience building. Earlier this year, we awarded over $350,000 in grants to four nonprofit organizations, each working to rebuild sustainable health care resources in the Philippines. We look forward to sharing the completed work of these grants with you in 2015.
While December is often a “quiet” time in the world when it comes to disasters, it is an excellent time for all of us to undertake an assessment of what each of us can do to better plan and prepare for the inevitable natural disasters. How can we build better resiliency into our communities and organizations, so we can better withstand challenges?. CDP will be using this time to continue our efforts researching, planning, and preparing for many different disaster possibilities. Doing so during this blue-sky time allows us to be stronger as an organization and build our capacity to play an increased role in future disaster events.
We also have two major projects that we’re working on this month. On Dec. 16, we’ll host a webinar to release our first report on the State of Disaster Philanthropy, a joint research project with Foundation Center that looks at trends in disaster philanthropy. We consider the annual report to be a key building block in our goal to “transform disaster philanthropy.” We hope you’ll register and join the discussion.
The second remaining item before December closes out is that we continue to accept donations to our Ebola Action Fund. Funds raised will go to organizations working on the long-term needs created by the Ebola virus in West Africa once the outbreak is contained.
As always, I welcome your thoughts and feedback. You can email me at

Robert G. Ottenhoff