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131 posts categorized "Disaster Relief"

Weekend Link Roundup (December 13-14, 2014)

December 14, 2014

Nutcrackers-christmasOur weekly roundup of noteworthy items from and about the nonprofit sector....

Agriculture

On the George and Cynthia Mitchell Foundation blog, David Festa, vice president for ecosystems at the Environmental Defense Fund, suggests that if "we're going to meet growing needs for food and water,...[b]usiness as usual just isn’t going to cut it." But, adds Festa, there are reasons for optimism, as retailers, food companies, agribusinesses, farmers, and ranchers all rethink their roles in the food supply chain to do more with less while improving the ecosystems on which they, and all of us, depend.

Civil Rights

Interesting look by the New York Times  at police shootings in New York City in 2013, the last year of the Blo0mberg administration. According to an annual NYPD report released early in the week, shooting by officers, "whether unintentional or in the course of confrontations with suspects," fell to 40, from 45 in 2012, and were down from an eleven-year high of 61 in 2003.

Communications/Marketing

Guest blogging on Nancy Schwartz' Getting Attention! blog, Allison Fine, author of the recently released Matterness: What Fearless Leaders Know About the Power and Promise of Social Media, suggests that the secret to succeess in today's social media-driven world is to communicate with people instead of at them.

Speaking of a "world gone social," what are the attributes of CEOs who "get" social media? Ted Coiné and Mark Babbitt have the answers in the Harvard Business Review.

Data

On the Markets for Good site, Beth Kanter shares ten ideas about how to find to data-nerd types to help enhance your organization's data collection and analysis capabilities.

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Can Data Help Save Lives and Protect Vulnerable Populations?

December 12, 2014

Headshot_regine_websterThe use of data to drive philanthropic decisions has been discussed at great length within the philanthropic sector over the past few years, and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) has been captivated by all the energy around the topic. One of our founding principles is to transform the field of disaster philanthropy, and we have achieved some traction toward that goal. But over the past two years, we gradually realized that a key element was lacking in our tool kit.

That key element was funder data. More specifically, which disasters are funded, by whom, for what purpose, and with what goals in mind?

The beginning of an answer lies in our newly-released report, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2014: Data to Drive Decisions (52 pages, PDF).

The report, the result of a partnership between CDP and Foundation Center, is the most comprehensive analysis of disaster philanthropy to date. As stated in the key findings section, the report "provides a snapshot of funding for disasters by the largest U.S. foundations." Based on 2012 data, it is also designed to establish a baseline and serve as the foundation for a longer-term effort to collect and aggregate data from the philanthropic community. Subsequent reports will provide insights into more current and comprehensive trends on disaster giving.

Key findings from the report include the following:

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Most Popular PhilanTopic Posts (November 2014)

December 01, 2014

PhilanTopic had a lot to be thankful for in November. In fact, thanks to a lot of great content, it was our busiest month, traffic wise, since we launched the blog back in 2007. Here's a recap of the posts that proved to be especially popular.

What have you read/watched/listened to lately that surprised, delighted you, or made you think? Share your finds in the comments section below, or drop us a line at mfn@foundationcenter.org.

Losing the Red Cross Would Be the Real Disaster

November 05, 2014

Headshot_beth_gazleyAs a disaster researcher and scholar of nonprofit management, I've followed the (well publicized) travails and (hardly publicized) successes of the American Red Cross over the years.

I've met its national staff at research conferences and local staff at state and county emergency management meetings, where I've served on the board of my local Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD). I participated with hundreds of other invited experts in the governance audit that resulted in the "American National Red Cross Governance Modernization Act of 2007." I’ve monitored the commentary after a ProPublica/National Public Radio exposé of the Red Cross appeared last week. And based on my observations, I have developed a healthy respect and sympathy for the Red Cross.

Bet you didn't see that coming.

There's no disputing the fact that the public needs better results from the Red Cross. The organization has been essential to our welfare since the day it was chartered by Congress to be our national disaster response agency — primus inter pares among hundreds of agencies known collectively as voluntary organizations active in disaster. In fact, the Red Cross predates the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) by seventy-nine years.

Congress has entrusted a good part of disaster-related mass care and sheltering to the Red Cross. Somewhat less rationally, Congress imposed this public mandate on the Red Cross without much aid; the agency is expected to meet our nation's disaster relief needs largely through the philanthropic generosity of Americans.

Further complicating matters, the Red Cross has been plagued for years by leadership issues — issues that aren't easy to resolve because they are rooted in a number of larger, systemic problems:

Greater forces of nature. Climate change makes it harder for all disaster relief agencies to achieve their mission. In the ProPublica/NPR story, a Red Cross executive observes the challenge of "scaling up" for Sandy, a storm that covered an area half the size of Europe. The organization's inability to do that was due to climate change, not internal organizational problems. In 2005, disaster relief agencies reached the same conclusion when they reported that the impact of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina was many times larger than their capacity to deal with back-to-back disasters. The lesson is clear: As disasters get larger and more complex, we all have to work together to scale our disaster response capacity.

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‘Fatal Assistance’: The Promise and Failure of Humanitarian Aid in Haiti

February 20, 2014

(Kathryn Pyle is a documentary filmmaker and a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. In her previous post, she wrote about the documentary Shored Up, winner of the 2014 Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Fund & Award.)

Fatal_assistance_posterThe magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, killed more than 200,000 Haitians, injured over 300,000 people, and left some 1.5 million Haitians homeless. It also devastated the capital city of Port-au-Prince, destroying buildings and wiping out large swaths of the city's infrastructure. As in most natural disasters, it was the poor, living in the most vulnerable areas, who were most affected – and Haiti was already the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.

The international response was immediate and unprecedented: ultimately, $14 billion was pledged for relief and recovery efforts by donor countries, bilateral and multilateral agencies, individuals, and foundations and corporations. The total amount actually disbursed was considerably less but still significant for a country with a population of only ten million.

Four years later, the clamor that arose almost immediately over how the aid was being disbursed, continues. In an editorial last month marking the fourth anniversary of the earthquake, the New York Times declared that despite the outpouring of support (and notwithstanding certain achievements), "Haiti is a fragile, largely forgotten country" where more than 170,000 people still live in temporary shelters.

A major criticism of the response has been the lack of direct support for, and meaningful consultation with, Haitians. According to the Guardian, of the $9 billion spent in Haiti by January 2013, 94 percent was funneled through donors' own entities, the United Nations, international NGOs, and private contractors. Reports since then confirm that only 5 percent of the money pledged for relief and recovery efforts in the country reached Haitian organizations.

Fatal Assistance, a new documentary by Haitian-born filmmaker Raoul Peck, provides a personal account of what happened in the weeks and months after the quake struck and, at the same time, is a plea for a more effective approach to humanitarian assistance in developing countries. Completed in 2013, the film premiered last year at Berlinale, the Berlin international film festival, and has been shown as part of the 2014 Human Rights Film Festival screening in cities across the U.S.

When the earthquake struck, Peck, like many other Haitians living abroad, returned home to help. "Those first weeks were a time of solidarity and connection," he told me. "Everybody slept outside. The Haitians were organizing everything."

That changed when the international relief groups arrived.

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5 Questions for...Jessica Alexander, Author, 'Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid'

November 19, 2013

When Typhoon Haiyan slammed into the central Philippines on November 7, the storm's winds of 190 mph-plus unofficially made it the strongest cyclone ever to make landfall. The destruction that ensued was catastrophic: more than 3,900 people killed and tens of thousands missing, half a million homes destroyed, and millions of people displaced. As has been the case in many recent natural disasters, aid and humanitarian agencies responded quickly and with the best of intentions but were stymied by sub-standard and/or damaged infrastructure and logistical bottlenecks.

The ferocious intensity of Haiyan also led experts and officials in the Philippines and elsewhere to connect the storm to climate change -- a contention likely to be debated for years to come.

Over the weekend, PND asked Jessica Alexander, author of Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid, to rate emergency relief efforts in the Phillipines, what Americans can do to help, and whether she thinks climate change is contributing to the destructiveness of weather-related natural disasters. For more information about how you can contribute to relief and recovery efforts in the Philippines, click here, here, and here).

Headshot_jessica_alexanderPhilanthropy News Digest: What can Americans do to help the people of the Philippines? And what shouldn't they do?

Jessica Alexander: Americans should give money to a reputable humanitarian agency -- either local or international -- that is already on the ground there. It's sometimes difficult to know where to donate, but there are ways people can narrow their search. Donate to organizations that had a pre-typhoon presence in the Philippines, are transparent about how they are spending money, are clear about what the needs are right now and how their programs are responding to those needs, and are intentional about linking their efforts with local and government responses.

If people feel strongly about a certain issue, they can donate to an organization that focuses on that issue: there are agencies that work on issues related to children, others that work strictly on health issues or that specialize in water and sanitation, and so on.

Americans should not give "gifts in kind," nor should they hop on a plane with the thought of becoming a first-responder themselves. Emergencies caused by a natural disaster -- the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, for example, or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010 -- resulted in a lot of well-intentioned people sending inappropriate items to the affected country -- food items that fail to take into account the culinary and dietary preferences of the local people, used or unsuitable clothing that ends up clogging ports and littering roadsides, medicines with labels in English, leaving people in affected countries without a clue as to how to take or use them.

While well-intentioned people may think these are "donations," they come at a high cost to the agencies who must transport the items, sort them once they arrive at their destination, ensure that they are equitably distributed, and warehouse the surplus. First responders are having a hard enough time right now getting food, water, and shelter to people in affected regions of the Philippines, and more often than not donations in kind, however well intentioned, slow the whole operation down. 

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Weekend Link Roundup (November 16-17, 2013)

November 17, 2013

Headshot_JFK_portrait_looking_upWe're getting ready to launch a new PND site, so this week's roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the sector is a little shorter than usual....

Climate Change

What's the link between global warming and killer tropical storms like Typhoon Haiyan -- quite possibly the strongest storm ever recorded upon landfall? It's not clear, writes Bryan Walsh in TIME magazine, but we shouldn't discount the possibility that such a link exists -- or that stronger, if not necessarily more frequent, tropical cyclones will be a feature of the twenty-first century because of "the warming we've already baked into the system...."

Disaster Response

On the GiveWell blog, Holden Karnofsky shares GiveWell's advice vis-a-vis disaster relief giving:

  1. Give cash, not clothes (or other goods).
  2. Support an organization that will help or get out of the way.
  3. Give proactively, not reactively.
  4. Allow your funds to be used where most needed – even if that means they’re not used during this disaster.
  5. Give to organizations that are transparent and accountable.
  6. Think about less-publicized suffering.

Evaluation

Good post by Tom Kelly, vice president of knowledge, evaluation and learning at the Hawaii Community Foundation, about foundations moving "to embrace and promote 'learning' as an alternative to evaluation." The problem with that, writes Kelly, is that "evaluation must be about learning and accountability. We must be accountable not only to the results we intend and promise to communities but...also learn in an accountable way." 

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Weekend Link Roundup (October 26-27, 2013)

October 27, 2013

Bats-On-HalloweenOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

Nice recap by Beth Kanter of a recent brainstorming meeting at a foundation that was looking to develop a strategy for its digital platforms. Facilitated by Peter Maher, founder and CEO of the Luma Institute, the session spent a fair amount of time on some of the human-centered design techniques shared in the institute's Innovating for People design guide. After describing the process in some detail, Kanter generously shares what she learned from the session in a sixteen-slide deck at the end of the post.

Data

The 2013 Bellagio/PopTech Fellows (Kate Crawford, Gustavo Faleiros, Amy Luers, Patrick Meier, Claudia Perlich, and Jer Thorp) have issued a white paper, Big Data, Communities and Ethical Resilience: A Framework for Action, that considers the potential contributions of data science and technology in creating more resilient communities in the face of a range of stresses -- environmental, political, social and economic.

The Nonprofit Quarterly's Rick Cohen looks at the "medium data" partnership recently announced by GuideStar and the Foundation Center -- and finds much to applaud.

The Global Open Data Initiative has released a draft Declaration on Open Data and invites your comments and feedback on its contents.

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Weekend Link Roundup (Sept. 7-8, 2013)

September 08, 2013

Back-to-school-signOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

On the Communications Network blog, Kate Emanuel, senior vice president of nonprofit and government relations at the Ad Council, offers some straightforward advice for organizations looking to create and/or leverage an online community:

  1. Think hard about whether you need an online community.
  2. Choose the right platform.
  3. Once you build it, be sure to promote it.
  4. Make your community work for you.

Disaster Relief

On LinkedIn, Charles Best, founder and CEO of DonorsChoose.org, shares a list of things every community needs after a disaster.

Education

Writing in the New York Times, Rob Reich, a professor of political science at Stanford University, argues that the "policies that govern private giving to public schools [are] perverse" and deepen the "inequalities they are...responsible for diminishing." How can we improve the situation? First, writes Reich, wealthy school foundations should honor the equality-promoting standards released by the National Commission on Civic Investment in Public Education. Second, donors and school foundations should support progressive tax reform. And third, Congress should differentiate or eliminate charitable status for local education foundations. What do you think?

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5 Questions for...Sheena Wright, President and CEO, United Way of New York City

July 11, 2013

The six-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy was accompanied by the requisite progress reports, assessments of what worked and what didn't, and general impatience with the slow pace of recovery. Some criticized the American Red Cross for not spending more of the funds it raised on short-term relief efforts, while others praised the organization for holding funds back for longer-term recovery projects.

Within days of Sandy making landfall, United Way Worldwide had created a Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund to collect donations for use by local United Way chapters. Of the $10.3 million raised by the fund to date, some $5.7 million was awarded by March, with another $3.3 million to be disbursed by mid-July. The remaining $1 million or so will be distributed by September 2014.

Recently, PND spoke with Sheena Wright, president and CEO of United Way of New York City, about her organization’s strategy in responding to Sandy, some of the lessons it learned, and what philanthropy can do to help nonprofits prepare for the next disaster.

Headshot_sheena_wrightPhilanthropy News Digest: You joined UWNYC as president and CEO just as Sandy was about to make landfall. What was the first order of business your first day in the office?

Sheena Wright: My first official day of work was supposed to be Monday, October 29, which was the day the storm made landfall, but the office, which is on Park Avenue between 32nd and 33rd streets, was closed that day. As things turned out, it remained closed for another week because the storm knocked power out below 34th Street. But that didn't prevent me from working. The first order of business was to make sure staff was okay. Then, on Tuesday, I received two phone calls. One was from the head of the United Way, who asked us to take the lead in raising a fund for relief and recovery efforts and to administer the fund on behalf of all United Ways in the region. The other call was from Mayor Bloomberg's office, which wanted us and five other large nonprofits in the city to play a lead role in emergency relief efforts. They knew we had ties in many of the neighborhoods and communities affected by the storm and that we would be able to help other organizations mobilize and connect people to resources. As a result of that call, we agreed to assume responsibility for the emergency relief efforts in Coney Island, and we also did a fair amount of work in the Rockaways. So in those early days -- those first few weeks, really -- my focus was on getting the fund up and running and activating and coordinating thousands of volunteers to help deliver food, water, medicine, and other kinds of emergency relief to residents of Coney Island.

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More Disasters Mean Changes and Challenges for Foundations

June 26, 2013

(Robert G. Ottenhoff is president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, which provides tools, expert analysis, and strategic guidance to maximize the impact of dollars given in support of disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery. Ottenhoff is the former president and CEO of GuideStar.)

Headshot_bob_ottenhoffThe year 2012 was a big year for weather and climate disaster events.

According to the National Climatic Data Center -- the nation's scorekeeper for natural disasters -- there were eleven weather and climate disaster events across the United States last year, each individual event resulting in excess of $1 billion in damage. These eleven disasters cumulatively caused more than $110 billion in damages and resulted in 377 deaths. That made 2012 the second costliest year on record, 2005 being the costliest since 1980, with $160 billion in damages due to four hurricanes that made landfall, including Katrina.

Some of these disasters affected millions of people and attracted major media attention. Superstorm Sandy -- the second biggest storm in American history -- caused more than $70 billion in damage as it raced up the East Coast. Large swaths of the New Jersey and New York coastline are only now being rebuilt. Earlier in the year, Hurricane Isaac followed a path eerily similar to the one Katrina took, creating much destruction in Mississippi and Louisiana. A mid-summer derecho roared through the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, felling thousands of trees and leaving hundreds of thousands of people without power for days, including this writer. What about some of the other events? Unless you lived through them, it's unlikely you remember them, or are even aware they occurred. But they did, and each one caused more than a billion dollars in damage and resulted in the loss of lives.

Disasters_map

Source: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/images/billion-dollar-disaster-map-2012.jpg

What can we learn from the report? How can we learn from the devastation left in the wake of 2012 and become better prepared for the future?

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Read of the Week: 'US Giving for Japan Disaster Exceeds $710 Million'

March 23, 2013

Jcie_earthquakeOn March 11, 2011, a massive earthquake off the coast of Japan triggered a tsunami that devastated more than four hundred miles of Japanese coastline, swamped (and permanently disabled) the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power complex, and left more than eighteen thousand people dead and half a million displaced from their homes. According to a new report from the Japan Center for International Exchange, Americans have donated a total of $712.6 million for relief and recovery efforts in Japan in the two years since the disaster -- the most ever given by Americans in response to a disaster in a developed nation and the fifth-largest giving total ever for a disaster.

The report, US Giving for Japan Disaster Exceeds $710 Million (5 pages, HTML), notes that initial disaster relief tallies underestimated the giving of tens of thousands of Americans who, instead of donating to the usual suspects, organized their own fundraisers, as well as off-the-radar groups with connections to Japan that launched fundraising campaigns of their own. Indeed, the report argues that whereas the outpouring of charitable donations following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami and the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was magnified by the well-documented poverty of the most of the victims and survivors, the American response to the disaster in much wealthier Japan seems to have been motivated in many cases by personal and/or corporate ties -- despite the fact that more than a few disaster-relief experts and media outlets suggested that Americans' donations would be more usefully applied to "everyday disasters" in poorer developing countries than in infrastructure-rich Japan.

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Weekend Link Roundup (March 9-10, 2013)

March 10, 2013

Daylight_savings_2013Our weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Communications/Marketing

In a two-part series on her Non-Profit Marketing blog (here and here), Katya Andresen shares highlights of a discussion she had with Allyson Kapin and Amy Sample Ward about the key themes in their recently published book Social Change Anytime Everywhere, including how nonprofits can use online tools to advance their work.

On the Communications Network blog, Courtney Williamson, the network's community manager, shares slides and video from Avoiding the Blind Spot: Telling Your Story With Pictures, a recent network webinar featuring Resource Media's Liz Banse and Scott Miller. Among other things, Banse and Miller outline three principles of good communication: 1) people are visual first, verbal second; 2) people's decisions and actions are based on emotional reaction more than rational thought; and 3) visuals are the most effective communications vehicles for evoking emotion and getting people to take action.

Disaster Relief

On the techPresident blog, Julia Wetherell looks at findings from a new Internews report on the effectiveness of crisis mapping following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake in Japan. Among other things, the report found that the crisis map created on the Ushahidi platform was "not as critical to [the humanitarian] response" as previously thought, in part because many victims of the disaster weren't aware of it. "The accessibility of crisis mapping was also dependent on the availability of Internet service," says Wetherell. To address that shortcoming, the report recommends strengthening IT infrastructure, particularly in less connected rural areas, before the next disaster hits.

NPR has a good interview with reporter Jonathan Katz, author of The Big Truck That Went By: How the World Came to Save Haiti and Left Behind a Disaster.

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Weekend Link Roundup (January 13-14, 2013)

January 13, 2013

Haiti-earthquake-anniversaryOur weekly roundup of new and noteworthy posts from and about the nonprofit sector....

Disaster Relief/Recovery

It's been three years since Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, was devastated by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake. In the weeks and months following the disaster, individuals and the international donor community stepped up with more than $5 billion in cash and commitments for relief and recovery efforts. So where do things stand today? Mark Leon Goldberg, managing editor of UN Dispatch, provides some basic facts and figures.

Nonprofits

Marie Deatherage, director of communications and learning at the Meyer Memorial Trust, curates a nice list of 2013 predictions for nonprofits, social entrepreneurs, and the social economy. Her list includes Lucy Bernholz's Philanthropy and the New Social Economy: Blueprint 2013, which is available as a free download from the Foundation Center's GrantCraft site; Pantheon president Mark Tobias ((@PanthTech) on "Ten Technology Trends to Watch in 2013"; and Nonprofit Revolution Now's "missing" predictions.

Philanthropy

Writing in Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, Nick Penniman and Ian Simmons take philanthropy to task for its "chronic" underinvestment in political reform at a time when the "special interests that finance and influence the political process have amassed unprecedented power." What would be an appropriate amount? ask Penniman and Simmons. Their answer? One percent, or as they write:

Some $300 billion is donated annually to charitable causes. So, $3 billion for reform. Yes, $3 billion sounds like a lot of money. But 1 percent of philanthropy is not excessive -- especially not for a purpose as important as maintaining a government of, by, and for the people. We spend magnitudes more than that funding the arts and humanities, fighting infectious diseases, providing the poor and needy with the services they need, and trying to improve our educational institutions. Committing a sliver of philanthropy to making sure Washington and the state capitals are free of corruption -- both legal and illegal -- seems like a smart investment. Doing so should not be seen as merely advancing an abstract concept of “good government,” but as a concrete and necessary step in advancing solutions to the great challenges of our time -- solutions that the philanthropic sector often invests in but never sees actualized....

Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, CEO and president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the nation's largest healthcare philanthropy, is named one of New Jersey's most fascinating people and is profiled in depth by the New Jersey Star-Ledger.

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Nonprofits and Disaster Response: 5 Questions for Gary Bagley, Executive Director, New York Cares

November 26, 2012

(Laura Cronin is a regular contributor to PhilanTopic. Recently, she asked Gary Bagley, executive director of New York Cares, the city's largest volunteer organization, about the organization's work with local nonprofit partners in response to Superstorm Sandy.)

Gary_bagley-headshotLaura Cronin: City workers -- first responders, firefighters, transit workers, sanitation workers -- labored around the clock to restore critical systems in New York City that were overwhelmed by the storm surge created by Sandy. Alongside them were thousands of residents who provided volunteer support to victims of the storm and chipped in to clean up affected areas. Creative responses such as Occupy Sandy's  online registry and local groups like the Red Hook Initiative were part of a rapid, largely decentralized nonprofit response to the storm. Your organization has a long history of rallying volunteers and partnering with the leading nonprofits in the city, in ordinary times as well as in times of crisis. What did your Sandy response look like?

Gary Bagley: New York Cares has a Memorandum of Understanding with the New York City Office of Emergency Management through which we are responsible for mobilizing volunteers in response to disasters. So beyond the eight thousand volunteers who signed up to help, we had three full-time staff members stationed at the OEM as well as other staff fielding calls and e-mails from organizations and individuals that needed assistance. But because many nonprofits, schools, and faith-based organizations were as hard hit as residents of low-lying areas, we had to go beyond our traditional collaborative program delivery model. In the hardest-hit locations in Staten Island and Queens, we had teams of New York Cares staffers assessing -- on foot and by car -- local needs. At the same time, our volunteers canvassed neighborhoods, distributed food, and started on the debris cleanup. Now, a few weeks into the recovery, we see that much of the work will be about providing social services, from reading programs at libraries to adult education programs, in the most heavily impacted areas. Helping neighborhoods thrive again will be about much more than cleanup efforts.

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