Support for individuals in the aftermath of a disaster is vitally important. Necessary support includes temporary shelter, clean water, food, supplies, sanitation, and healthcare. Hundreds of millions of dollars are raised by the nation’s largest disaster response nonprofits that supports immediate relief and critical needs mentioned above. And yet, direct financial assistance to individuals remains a critical need.

Emergency first responders and non-governmental organizations carry out immediate relief work in the hours, days, and weeks following a disaster. First responders assist with evacuations, initial first aid, clearing and examining structures, and many other activities that allow a community to begin processing a disaster. NGONon-governmental Organizations respond by assisting with temporary shelter, food needs, clothing, and water. In some cases, federal and state aid may be allocated, but there is a critical need for long-term individual case management. Long-term case management would provide support as immediate relief groups transition out and rebuilding begins.


Innovative Practices

The best practices in this area in many ways involve being prepared before a disaster occurs – an area especially difficult to obtain funding for.

  • Community education: fund programs that educate individuals and families on how to develop their own disaster plan – where to go and what to do post disaster.
  • Bolster the funding of local organizations that will be on the front lines following a disaster – food banks, homeless shelters and programs, elderly and child care programs. Fund their staffing and programs that plan for disasters.
  • Research a core group of organizations ahead of time that you will grant to immediately following a disaster. This group of organizations is ideally already working with vulnerable populations and in providing immediate relief to underserved, even in blue-sky times. Work with them to develop a disaster emergency plan and then vet them to receive funds immediately following a disaster to implement those plans.
  • Cash assistance is vital to individuals and families following a disaster. Each of their needs will vary greatly, and cash provides the needed flexibility to resume their lives as quickly as possible.
  • Consider funding the development of mobile platforms – mapping and phone apps that place first responders, NGONon-governmental Organizations and those affected by a disaster on the same page in terms of information availability following a disaster. These mechanisms also allow for more efficient response and case tracking and management.


Key Takeaways

Preparedness in this particular area is especially key. The more prepared individuals and families are, the better positioned communities and businesses are to bounce back following a disaster.

  1. Advocate for families to be financially prepared ahead of time. This means compiling copies of bank information, identification and social security documents, recent tax returns, medical records and more.
  2. Have a disaster plan for your organization – and include your key partners in the process. This will allow you to respond immediately in the way that makes most sense for your organization’s purpose.
  3. Be prepared to fund the immediate needs – short-term food, shelter, household items and cash – and make decisions about how you will meet those needs ahead of time. But also remember to hold some funds for the long-term needs that will surface.