Trends informing disaster giving in 2024: Insights from top philanthropy leaders

Editor’s note: Many foundation, corporate and individual donors are looking to sharpen their giving strategies to maximize social impact. We invited several philanthropy leaders to share their reflections on trends they’re seeing as they prepare to support communities affected by disasters in 2024.

Disaster trends lean toward an escalation in occurrence and higher complexities. This demands a bold approach to collaborative giving. The individuals and communities in harm’s way, who already bear systemic vulnerabilities, need our undivided attention as we join forces with governments, the private sector and local communities to create a resilient buffer of support.

While traditional responses remain crucial, philanthropy must prioritize longer-term equitable solutions over immediate relief. With collective action and a sharper approach, we can empower communities to weather future storms.

Tiffany Benjamin
Board Chair, CDP
CEO, Humana Foundation

As the world reels with increased turmoil, both by Mother Nature’s fury and human behavior, The Patterson Foundation is ever-more focused on our four-county region in Florida. We are continually reminded of the value of strengthening individuals, organizations and communities in ways that foster wide participation around shared aspirations.  This begins by asking “who else cares?” and “what is possible?”

Lessons learned from Irma, Ian and Idalia continue to call our attention to engaging with those impacted to benefit from the Suncoast Disaster Recovery Fund, which includes a pilot participatory grantmaking process in DeSoto County through our partners at Community Foundation of Sarasota. We are also always learning from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which has informed The Patterson Foundation’s Community Preparedness, Response and Resiliency initiative. Never alone, always with others is a moral imperative.

Debra Jacobs
President & CEO
The Patterson Foundation

In 2024, I expect a surge in sustainability-focused giving as climate change awareness grows. I believe donors will increasingly prioritize initiatives addressing environmental factors contributing to disasters.

There will be a heightened focus on tech-driven disaster response, leveraging AI and data analytics for precise aid efforts. AI’s ability to analyze vast datasets, including satellite imagery and social media trends, enables rapid disaster assessment and targeted aid distribution. Chatbots powered by AI streamline communication for real-time information delivery to affected populations.

I’m seeing corporations place increased importance on rapid response and disaster relief philanthropy, recognizing the direct impact of climate crises on employees and customers.

Additionally, I believe there will be a growing emphasis on community resilience programs, empowering local populations to withstand and recover from disasters, with a focus on building financial security. This reflects a shift in disaster philanthropy towards long-term support for proactive resiliency and critical rebuilding efforts.

Karen Little
Strategic Partnerships & Rapid Response, Social Innovation

We see that 2024 will continue the trend of unprecedented need across the globe for disaster response. With this in mind, it’s encouraging to see more people making use of donor-advised funds, which serve as ready reserves that enable donors to respond quickly and nimbly to crises. In fact, nearly 60% of donors say they have used their account to respond to a disaster situation and as a way to have a pool of money set aside for giving.

Elaine Martyn
Senior Vice President of the Private Donor Group
Fidelity Charitable

I am seeing the intersection of investing in educational initiatives and long-term recovery efforts as a way to better support youth directly affected by a disaster.

Program Officer
Family Foundation

What trends are you anticipating, and how do you think they could affect disaster giving in 2024? Let us know – we’d love to hear from you.

CDP Staff