Mapping Custom Services for Informed Disaster Giving

Maps fascinate me – road maps, topographic maps, physical maps, political maps, and even treasure maps. These complex pieces of paper give me a sense of direction, a sense of purpose, and a sense of orientation. Regardless of where I fall on either the “Type A” continuum, or the Myers Briggs scale, I think we can all agree that a sense of direction is incredibly useful in our day-to-day lives.
At the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, as part of our effort to inform and engage, we help funders develop maps around disaster philanthropy. This gives them map-like directions for how to respond, where to respond, when to respond, and why to respond. What does that really mean?
As part of our custom approaches work, we have the opportunity to work closely with funders – in a one-on-one manner – to help them think through how to be most effective with their disaster philanthropy. We intimately learn about the mission, vision, culture, and processes that guide a funder or a foundation (corporate, community, institutional, etc.) to get a sense for the passion that drives them. Then, our team works with our partner to define the goal and deliver on the product.
While not an exhaustive list, here are some of the services that the Center for Disaster Philanthropy provides:

  • Strategic planning to clarify individual or organizational goals around disaster philanthropy and identify strategies for meeting those goals and developing concrete steps toward implementation.
  • In-depth research and analysis on disasters, disaster issues, funder profiles, and responding organizations
  • Grantee identification and due diligence to investigate an organization’s track record, finances, capacity and human resource capabilities.
  • Program planning and design services to develop a framework and process through which to implement disaster programs across the entire lifecycle of a disaster.
  • Program evaluation services to understand a grant program’s results and impact.

Here’s a sampling of work that we have done over the past year:

  • We are currently working to support The Funders Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities: Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency, and Emergency Partnership (PPREP) cohort. As part of this work, we have authored a disaster preparedness workbook and are working closely with all eighteen of the community foundations participating in PPREP to complete the workbook. Our anticipation is that this workbook, as part of the larger, two-year PPREP project, will culminate with eighteen organizations that are well versed and well prepared to respond to disasters.
  • We are working with an industry association to undertake a feasibility study for how their members can bring their resources and talents to undergird the communications and technology needs that arise as a result of a major disaster. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is currently working to pilot a task force and identify a nationally-based disaster response NGO to partner with this association.
  • We worked with an institutional foundation to help them reshape their disaster grantmaking strategies and processes. Our work focused on defining what type of disaster would prompt the foundation’s response. It helped the foundation determine what types of activities it responds to, and developed processes for proposal development all the way through to program approval. These efforts will ultimately institutionalize the foundation’s ability to engage in relief and recovery efforts in a way that is consistent with its mission and institutional culture.
  • We worked with a corporate foundation to help them systematize their disaster response efforts in a manner that was consistent with their company’s culture and business practice. We developed a disaster definition that would encompass global events and developed a system for how the company would mobilize its resources (human, financial, and technical) depending upon the need of a given disaster.

If you would like to learn more about our custom approaches or have a question or two that you’d like to hash out with me, please reach out! I can be found at or 206.972.0187. We’d be happy to draw a map with you!

More like this