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An Ounce of Prevention: Improving Philanthropy’s Disaster Response

By Brian Walsh on March 6, 2007No Comment

When responding to natural or man-made disasters, philanthropic
entities should look beyond immediate relief and focus on prevention and
recovery, according to a report by the Institute for the Study of
International Migration
(ISIM) at Georgetown University

"Private philanthropy plays an extremely valuable role
in disaster management. It is more timely and flexible than public funding, and
foundations and corporations often contribute their expertise as well as their
money to relief operations,” says Susan F. Martin,
director of ISIM and co-author of the report,  "Philanthropic Grantmaking
for Disaster Management: Trend Analysis and Recommended Improvements

Among the key findings of the ten-month study:

  • grantmakers should support capacity-building activities such as needs assessment, information sharing and strategic planning
  • collaboration is needed among organizations involved in philanthropic giving for disaster relief
  • disaster grantmaking should be expanded to include complex humanitarian emergencies
  • more transparent mechanisms for identifying and assessing potential grant recipients should be developed
  • greater in-house knowledge and capacity about disaster management priorities and capabilities should be developed
  • additional
    research and analysis is needed to assess current disaster management initiatives, identify areas for improvement and increase dissemination of
    information about best practices in disaster management

Back in 2006, onPhilanthropy contributor Jessica
Stannard-Friel offered advice for corporate grantmakers to prepare for philanthropic
giving to disaster relief.  As
philanthropy serves a crucial role in disaster relief, it’s worth ensuring that
people and organizations across the philanthropic sector have learned from
previous disasters and are prepared to meet the challenges that will come when
the next disaster strikes.

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