What is CDP?
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) is a nonprofit 501c3 organization conceived after the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina in 2005 by several funders committed to making disaster-related contributions more effective and strategic. Founded in 2010, CDP is the only full-time national resource dedicated to helping donors maximize their impact by making more intentional disaster-related giving decisions in response to domestic and international events. Learn more about our work, including our mission and vision.

What is your organization’s purpose?
With the increasing frequency and intensity of disasters comes the critical need of knowing when and how to respond effectively. At CDP, we focus on disasters full-time, 365 days a year and support the complete life cycle of disasters including planning, preparation, mitigation, recovery and resilience. You can learn more about our philosophy in our annual Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy report which we produce with Candid (formerly Foundation Center) with generous support from the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, along with additional support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.

In 2018, we distributed $15.3 million in grants to more than 100 organizations to support recovery efforts in the U.S. and abroad in communities affected by hurricanes, flooding, wildfires, earthquakes, tornadoes and man-made disasters.

What do you do?
The far-reaching impacts of disasters — both domestic and international — from their human toll to their economic impact, require a comprehensive approach to philanthropy. We have three areas of activity that are part of our work in effective disaster philanthropy:

  • Education: We provide a variety of educational and informational services to help donors better understand what to do with their disaster-giving. In addition to the State of Disaster Philanthropy report, we also have the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook to help donors with planning before, during and after disasters. In addition, we regularly post blogs and host webinars on relevant topics and/or current disaster events.
  • Grantmaking: Our focus on medium- to long-term recovery means that while others move quickly to fund relief efforts, our grantmaking is comprehensive, thorough, strategic and efficient.  Long-term recovery requires a holistic approach to individuals and their communities, particularly among vulnerable populations. Our Recovery Fund grants fund local organizations, on-the-ground, doing the work. We also manage the Midwest Early Recovery Fund and the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Alliance.
  • Consulting: We consult directly with foundations and corporations on strategic plans and disaster-giving strategies to better align them with their organizational mission and priorities.

Here are some approaches for effective disaster philanthropy. Fund local. Fund long term. Fund medium- to long-term recovery. Learn from others. Stay close to your organizational mission.

What does disaster recovery really mean?
Disaster recovery is the process of improving individual, family and community resiliency after the occurrence of a disaster. Recovery is not only about the restoration of structures, systems and services – although they are critical. A successful recovery is also about individuals and families being able to rebound from their losses and sustain their physical, social, economic, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.

How big is CDP?
CDP is a small, hard-working team of passionate experts with extensive disaster and nonprofit experience. We bring on additional experts on a case-by-case basis.

We also have a board of directors and advisory council composed of domestic and international experts with extensive disaster, humanitarian and nonprofit experience.

What is the CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund?
In times of disaster, many donors don’t know what to do or when to do it. CDP knows from past disasters, especially through our experience with hurricanes and floods, that full recovery will take many years. The CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund allowed donors to support long-term recovery needs in Houston and in the 41 counties impacted by the hurricane.

What did you do with the Hurricane Harvey funds?
The CDP Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund focused on medium- and long-term recovery, including rebuilding homes and businesses; meeting the needs of young children; supporting mental health needs, legal aid and capacity building.

For more details on the process of how we disburse funds raised, please see: Four Keys to Strategic Disaster Grantmaking.

Why give to recovery? Don’t people need support right away?

A contribution immediately after a disaster strikes certainly helps first responder organizations and we encourage your support. However, our experience shows that donations drop significantly within days after a disaster, even though most of the efforts to recover take many months or years. CDP works to raise awareness of the importance of funding medium- to long-term recovery efforts because long after the media attention goes away, communities require ongoing, flexible funding to rebuild and to heal.

Does CDP do the recovery work?

No, our recovery funds are distributed to vetted nonprofit organizations with the capacity and capabilities to help their communities recover.

Does CDP charge fees?

Yes, we recover direct costs, as well as retain five percent to manage all of the expenses CDP will incur as a nonprofit organization, including forming an advisory committee of subject matter experts, researching other donors and nonprofits, conducting due diligence on prospective grant recipients, awarding grants and following up to make sure contributions are well spent.