We were all new once: Shared learning for recovery solutions

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

On Feb. 15, 2024, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy domestic grantmaking team hosted the first planned quarterly grantee partner virtual convening of the year. We invited all active U.S.-focused grantee partners to join us, and the event attracted approximately 45 participants.

At the heart of the gathering was the simple yet profound purpose of developing connections, exchanging experiences and nurturing relationships. With a firm belief in the power of collaboration, the event provided a unique platform for networking among organizations committed to disaster recovery.

Under the theme “We Were All New Once,” we asked grantee partners to reflect on their early experiences in disaster recovery and contrast them with their present experiences. A mini-learning session delved into the details of disaster recovery and long-term resilience, prompting participants to revisit moments when the field seemed confusing and unfamiliar.

During the session, grantee partners shared their experiences of feeling overwhelmed by disaster recovery complexities. However, they also highlighted the transformative power of resource leveraging and cross-sector collaboration in sustaining recovery efforts over the long term. Ideas flowed freely as participants brainstormed strategies for collaborative action and explored avenues for mutual support.

Several grantee partners highlighted the convening’s significance:

“It was helpful to learn that others have encountered similar issues, and hearing the different ways that problems have been solved helps to build a ‘solution toolkit.”

“Thank you so much again for coordinating today’s gathering. It was incredibly encouraging and supportive, and I hope that I can relay that feeling to the rest of our staff on the frontlines. I’d love to make further connections with grantees working in media and/or in our geographic area of Hawaii.”

From this experience, I learned that fostering connections and facilitating dialogue within the disaster recovery community is imperative. As funders, it reinforces our responsibility to create collaborative environments where grantee partners can exchange insights and experiences. By investing in these events, funders can empower their grantee partners to navigate disaster recovery complexities more effectively, ultimately enhancing the impact of their philanthropic efforts.

The “We Were All New Once” convening exemplified the determination that defines the disaster recovery community through dialogue, exchange and shared learning. As we move forward, we will continue to build bridges, harnessing our collective experiences to navigate the changing landscape of disaster recovery.

We are grateful to all the grantee partners who joined us in February and look forward to future convenings and opportunities to collaborate.

Juanicia Crump

Juanicia Crump

Midwest Early Recovery Fund Program Associate