New State of Disaster Philanthropy Report Shows Foundations and Public Charities Funded Nearly $468 Million in 2018

Data shows the majority of funding from foundations and public charities was for response and relief, while only a fraction went toward reconstruction, recovery, resilience, and preparedness

New York, NY—November 12, 2020. Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) announce the seventh edition of their annual research report, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2020: Data to Drive Decisions. Drawing from 13 data sources, the report documents $76 billion in corporate, individual, private and public giving in response to major disasters and humanitarian crises in the U.S. and worldwide in 2018. This amount includes giving for Hurricanes Michael and Florence and California’s historic Camp Fire. It also examines funding toward global disasters such as volcanic eruptions, famine, typhoons, and human-caused humanitarian emergencies in Yemen and Syria, and the Rohingya refugee crisis.

Other key findings for 2018 disaster funding include:

  • Foundations and public charities gave $468 million in funding for disasters and humanitarian crises.
  • Natural disasters accounted for 52 percent of disaster funding.
  • Among disaster assistance strategies, 50 percent of dollars were for response and relief; 12 percent went toward reconstruction and recovery; 4 percent to preparedness; and 2 percent to resilience efforts.
  • Disaster grantmaking by 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations decreased by $50 million from 2017.
  • The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) distributed $11.2 billion for U.S. disasters in 2018, a $4.4 billion decrease from 2017.
  • Official development assistance by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) totaled $21 billion for disasters and humanitarian crises. Non-DAC government donors and multilateral organizations contributed an additional $5.6 billion.
  • Based on available data, corporate giving programs committed approximately $206 million to disasters and humanitarian crises in cash and in-kind donations.
  • Among the many donor-advised funds, Fidelity Charitable and Vanguard Charitable saw a combined $34 million in giving for disasters.

“Philanthropy can play a crucial role in supporting long-term recovery for communities that are still trying to rebuild from emergencies that took place in 2018,” said Grace Sato, director of research at Candid. “As the world continues to cope with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, we hope that this report can offer donors information that can inform their future disaster giving efforts.”

Philanthropic giving provided critical funding to global efforts in response to natural and man-made disasters and complex humanitarian emergencies in 2018. Source: Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2020: Data to Drive Decisions.

Many of the communities affected by 2018 disasters face a long road toward equitable recovery, reconstruction and preparedness for future disasters. The global COVID-19 pandemic makes these efforts even more complex, as the philanthropic community responds to the coronavirus and other disasters and crises from the past two years.

The report provides a comprehensive picture of where dollars are going and critical needs to help funders identify ways to maximize impact.

“Donors want to be both nimble and supportive when disaster strikes, while ensuring that precious grant dollars will have an impact,” said Stephanie Cuskley, Chief Executive Officer of the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “CDP’s report is a resource for the sector to help us all understand how we are collectively responding, and where the gaps are, so that we can all make better decisions.”

“The State of Disaster Philanthropy report is essential reading for anyone wishing to understand the incredible impact of philanthropic giving in disasters,” said Patricia McIlreavy, president and CEO of CDP. “The data in the report also demonstrates clearly that a substantial gap remains between the generosity for immediate response activities and the longer-term funding required to support communities on their path to recovery and to aid them in the mitigation of further disasters.”

McIlreavy will moderate a discussion on the report’s key findings during a free webinar on Tuesday, November 17, at 2:00 p.m. ET/ 1:00 p.m. CT. Supriya Kumar, global partnerships research manager at Candid, will present the data. Other panelists include Savi Horne, executive director of the Land Loss Prevention Project, and David Little, executive vice president of programs and communications of North Valley Community Foundation. Horne and Little will share insights into the philanthropic response to assist communities affected by Hurricane Florence and the Camp Fire.

The report, along with the free data dashboard and mapping platform, are available at disasterphilanthropy.candid.org. This project was made possible by generous support from The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust.

About Candid
Every year, millions of nonprofits spend trillions of dollars around the world. Candid finds out where that money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Through research, collaboration, and training, Candid connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it. Candid’s data tools on nonprofits, foundations, and grants are the most comprehensive in the world. Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces to become Candid, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Find out more at candid.org and on Twitter @CandidDotOrg.

About Center for Disaster Philanthropy
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy leverages the power of philanthropy to mobilize a full range of resources that strengthen the ability of communities to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur. It manages domestic and international disaster funds on behalf of corporations, foundations and individuals through targeted, holistic and localized grantmaking. For more information, visit: http://disasterphilanthropy.org or tweet us @funds4disaster.

Last updated: 11/19/2020


The Center for Disaster Philanthropy leverages the power of philanthropy to mobilize a full range of resources that 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 @funds4disaster.