“Every year, communities in the United States are challenged by natural disasters including floods, tornadoes, and earthquakes. Every time a major disaster strikes, community members are forced to figure out how to respond, often with little preparation. With support from individuals, nonprofit organizations, faith-based groups, funders, and local/state/federal agencies, incredible work gets done, but perhaps not as effectively or as efficiently as it could.”
— The Funders Network
When a disaster is not on the immediate horizon, or has faded from memory, it is easy to overlook the preparations that organizations and communities can make to mitigate loss of life and property, and facilitate effective disaster response. To lessen the impact of a disaster, it is important for philanthropic and nonprofit organizations to have:
- an internal preparedness plan (how staff and Board members will maintain operations during a disaster) and
- an external plan (strategies and actions that will be taken to assist constituencies and communities).
These plans are especially critical for those organizations located in areas subject to repeated disasters, such as tornadoes, fires, landslides, hurricanes, flooding or earthquakes.
- Preparedness plans should be thorough, and reviewed and rehearsed regularly;
- Identify whether or not your state/region has an active VOADVoluntary Organizations Active in Disaster and/or LTRGLong Term Recovery Group;
- Make sure your state/region has a central, non-governmental, website (this could be your VOADVoluntary Organizations Active in Disaster site) to communicate vital information to a broad audience during and following a disaster;
- Build and strengthen existing relationships with government and emergency management officials, local first-responders, and nonprofits who are most likely to be called upon in times of disaster.
Grantmakers can emphasize the importance of disaster preparedness to their communities and provide appropriate assistance in that effort. According to the United Nations Development Programme, “Every dollar invested into disaster preparedness saves seven dollars in disaster aftermath.”