CDP and Foundation Center Release Research Tracking How Foundation Funding Flows to Disasters

12/10/2014: Foundation Center and Center for Disaster Philanthropy Release Research Tracking How Foundation Funding Flows to Disasters

Research Lays Foundation for Data Collection Network to Improve Disaster Philanthropy

(NEW YORK AND WASHINGTON, D.C.,) Today Foundation Center, the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), the only full-time resource devoted to disaster philanthropy, released a new report to help donors, NGOs, government agencies, and media to gain an increased understanding of how much foundation funding is spent on disasters each year, by whom, and for what activities. Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2014: Data to Drive Decisions presents the first-ever snapshot of funding for disasters by the largest U.S. foundations. It finds that, in 2012, 234 foundations made 884 grants totaling $111 million for disasters.

“Until now, disaster philanthropy has been very difficult to track. Existing philanthropic giving reports did not call out disaster giving, and in some cases, money that went to disasters is categorized as giving in other fields of interest such as children, health, and even the arts,” said Robert G. Ottenhoff, President and CEO of CDP. “This new report and CDP’s partnership with Foundation Center represent important steps towards capturing a more complete picture of the funding landscape.”

According to the research findings, the majority of disaster grant making ($64.9 million) in 2012 was for natural disasters, and almost half of all disaster funding ($51.5 million) was directed to response and relief efforts. The report also examines the philanthropic response to earlier disasters, explores the media landscape, and anticipates what it will take to improve coordination and collaboration for more effective disaster-related giving. Three case studies in the report take a closer look at foundations that have made substantial investments in disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery.

“It’s encouraging to see foundations whose approaches to disaster philanthropy demonstrate innovation and a commitment to addressing not only disaster relief, but the full life cycle of disasters,” said Lawrence T. McGill, vice president for research at Foundation Center and one of the report’s authors.

The research report is part of a broader effort to track philanthropic funding flows to disasters, cultivate an online data gathering network, and equip the field with strategic resources for improving disaster preparedness and response. A searchable online platform launching in late 2015 will make this information accessible, facilitate even more peer-to-peer learning, and provide an opportunity for additional funders to contribute to this collective body of knowledge.

“The data network and resulting website can help shift how organizations understand, prepare for, and respond to disasters,” said Bradford K. Smith, president of Foundation Center. “Our intent is that the work will empower donors to make strategic, effective giving decisions related to disasters and ultimately improve the practice of philanthropy through better coordination and transparency.”

This project was made possible by a generous gift from The Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation. An expert advisory committee comprised of foundations, humanitarian organizations, and philanthropic support organizations is also providing ongoing guidance and insight for the project.

The advisory committee members include the following: Nancy Anthony (Oklahoma City Community Foundation), Lori Bertman (Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation), Ed Cain (Conrad N. Hilton Foundation), Sherrie Forrest (National Academies of Science), Helena Frasier (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs), Mark Lindberg (Margaret A. Cargill Foundation), David Meltzer (American Red Cross), Apollo Nkwake (Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy, Tulane University), Una Osilli (Indiana University), Lawrence T. McGill (Foundation Center), Robert G. Ottenhoff (Center for Disaster Philanthropy), Alexandra Pittman (Foundation Center), Joe Ruiz (UPS Foundation), Seema Shah (Foundation Center), Julie Ann Thompson (UNOCHA), Rudy von Bernuth (Save the Children, retired), Regine A. Webster (Center for Disaster Philanthropy), Sam Worthington (InterAction) and Clay Whybark (University of North Carolina).



The Center for Disaster Philanthropy mobilizes philanthropy to strengthen communities’ ability to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur. It provides expert advice and resources while managing domestic and international disaster funds on behalf of corporations, foundations and individuals through targeted, holistic and localized grantmaking. Find out more at and on Twitter @funds4disaster.