We take a systematic, highly targeted approach to disasters to achieve the most impact nationally and internationally.

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) follows the United Nations definition of disaster:

A situation or event that overwhelms local capacity, necessitating a request to the national or international community for external assistance; an unforeseen and often sudden event that causes great damage, destruction, and human suffering. Types of disasters include earthquakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, floods, droughts, wildfires, epidemics, tsunamis and mass movements (e.g. landslides).

CDP classifies disasters into three broad categories:

  1. Sudden-Onset Emergencies (e.g. Hurricane Maria)
  2. Slow-Onset Emergencies (e.g. The Sahel famine)
  3. Complex Emergencies (e.g. Yemen humanitarian crisis)

In the United States, we have a focus on catastrophic rapid- and slow-onset natural disasters. We use the following screens to determine whether and how we should respond:

  • Significant loss of life, injury or displacement
  • Significant impact on a community’s livelihood and capacity to respond
  • Significant impact on vulnerable populations (e.g. children, older adults, communities of color, low income households, the uninsured and people with disabilities)
  • Heightened media attention
  • FEMA declaration of a major disaster

Outside the United States, we have a focus on catastrophic rapid- and slow-onset natural disasters as well as complex humanitarian crises. To determine the response, we look for:

  • Significant loss of life, injury or displacement
  • Call for national or international assistance
  • Significant impact on a community’s livelihood and capacity to respond
  • Significant impact on vulnerable populations
  • Heightened media attention

CDP works vigilantly to track disasters as they happen. Our Disaster Profiles contain detailed information, including an overview of the situation, critical needs and resources. Profiles provide a go-to source about major disasters and how donors can respond.

Photo credit: Nancy Anthony.