The Patterson Foundation Provides a Solution for How Your Global Disaster Giving Can Go Farther

Cyclone Idai aftermath (Photo by Denis Onyodi: IFRC/DRK/Climate Centre; CC BY 2.0)

Here at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), we often talk about “bold” funding – that is, seeking out opportunities in our grantmaking to address issues that others may not or filling in gaps when funds from other sources have run out. To do this work, we also need bold, courageous funders. Those willing to take the lead – particularly in supporting international recovery efforts.

We have such a funder in The Patterson Foundation. Their recent $250,000 gift in support of the CDP Global Recovery Fund for Cyclone Idai was paired with a commitment to donate $250,000 each time other donors contribute $250,000 (up to $750,000) to the same fund. This is to serve as a challenge to other philanthropists to bring considerable financial support to the international disasters and humanitarian crises that come and go quickly in our national consciousness yet require substantial support from private philanthropy.

Tropical Cyclones Idai, Kenneth and Fani grabbed headlines for a few days but now coverage has faded; ongoing crises in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Venezuela and Yemen, to name a few, also receive minimal attention. There are urgent and critical needs and experience has shown us that complete damage assessments take time, which means the process of recovery will take many months and years.  I would contend that waiting to fund can be a bold approach — one that CDP embraces with our focus on medium- to long-term recovery. It takes bold funding partners like The Patterson Foundation to support this type of grantmaking. And perhaps bolder still, as a U.S. foundation, to make a significant investment in global recovery, especially amid the dramatic needs of disaster-impacted communities here at home. I am proud to say they do both! What funders like The Patterson Foundation know is that real recovery requires sizeable, sustainable and flexible funding.

There is an opportunity to be part of this bold approach. The Patterson Foundation will match any support to the Global Recovery Fund on a 1-to-1 basis up to $750,000.

Our Global Recovery Fund is focused exclusively on addressing medium- and long-term needs following international disasters, such as rebuilding homes, infrastructure and businesses while supporting children’s well-being, providing mental health services and boosting damaged agriculture sectors. The fund will allow donors to earmark contributions to meet specific international disaster-relief and recovery efforts, or donors can choose to allow CDP to allocate funding where it is needed most.

Investments will come in the form of grants to local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Proposals from potential grantees will be vetted across three dimensions – programmatic, financial and governance. As is our standard procedure for grants, CDP staff will seek the counsel and expertise of our advisory council, comprised of local and national experts in the field. We envision the Global Recovery Fund will eventually help address unmet needs such as shelter, WASHnutritioneducation, mental health, protection and livelihoods.

Debra Jacobs, president and CEO of The Patterson Foundation said it well, “No matter where disaster strikes, private philanthropy has the potential to drive positive outcomes for the people left facing an uncertain future.” It is our hope that their foundation’s bold challenge will be taken up by many of you in the philanthropic community.

If you would like to learn how to take advantage of the matching contribution offer from The Patterson Foundation for the Global Recovery Fund, contact me or Laura Starr at 202-464-2018.

Robert G. Ottenhoff

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