Getting Out Ahead of Disasters

Pre-disaster funds offer high impact giving options

I’m often asked, “How do I make my disaster-related giving as effective as possible?” You want to make every penny count—especially in times of disaster. One way you can ensure that your donation is both effective and strategic is to consider a pre-disaster fund.
GettyImages_176877264As the scale and frequency of natural disasters continues to grow, our team is increasingly working with donors to create pre-disaster funds. By aggregating funds BEFORE disaster strikes, we bring donors together to help communities plan better and act more quickly when it is time to spring into action. With these pre-disaster funds, your dollars can also potentially support preparedness and readiness efforts that are critical to building more resilient communities. Your giving helps lower the overall impact during and after a disaster.
An example of a pre-disaster fund is our Midwest Early Recovery Fund. In partnership with the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation, we established the fund to help vulnerable populations in a ten-state region of the Midwest that have been affected by “low-attention” disasters. These are events such as tornadoes, flooding, earthquakes, landslides, and wildfires that, while destructive, don’t receive much media attention or subsequent financial assistance.
We also recently activated a new pre-disaster fund, the Gulf Coast Resilience Innovation Fund (GCRIF). The purpose of the GCRIF is to identify best practices, lessons learned, and innovative experiments from the Gulf Coast that can be replicated in other areas of the world. At the same time, the fund will also bring innovations back to Gulf Coast communities. The fund was inaugurated with a $200,000 lead gift from the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation in honor of the tenth anniversary of Katrina and the many donors who contributed over time to the recovery of the Gulf. This fund is designed with ultimate flexibility to accommodate multiple donors with multiple approaches.
As you look to make a real difference with your disaster-related giving, I encourage you to consider focusing on efforts that reduce the impact of disasters in addition to shoring up a community’s ability to rebound and adapt. Such resilience-centered funds support long-lasting, adaptable strategies, and ultimately offer higher impact disaster philanthropy.

Robert G. Ottenhoff

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