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[Report] 'Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy'

November 13, 2015

Humanitarian_aid_OCPA-2005-10-28-090517aI am pleased to announce that the second annual Measuring the State of Disaster of Disaster Philanthropy report has been released. The report, a joint effort of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Foundation Center, represents a global effort to track, document, and record philanthropic giving to disasters.

Why do this? The answer is twofold. First, we want to more accurately capture how philanthropy currently responds to disasters and encourage philanthropy to support the full arc of a disaster, not just immediate relief needs. And because this second report represents the most comprehensive analysis to date on disaster philanthropy.

This year's report benefits from several enhancements:

  1. The data are drawn from seven different sources – Foundation Center, the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) Creditor Reporting System, FEMA, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Financial Tracking Service, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Corporate Citizenship Center Disaster Corporate Aid Tracker, GlobalGiving, and Network for Good.
  2. The Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy Dashboard allows funders, practitioners, policy makers, and other stakeholders to interact with the data and hone in on their specific areas of interest. When visiting the dashboard, you can filter the information by disaster type, disaster assistance strategy, geographic area, and data source.
  • The seven data sources documented a total of $27.6 billion awarded in 2013 for disasters and humanitarian crises.
  • Government dollars represented the largest source of aid. FEMA alone distributed more than $11 billion in grants and assistance in 2013.
  • Aid from the 29 members of OECD's Development Assistance Committee (DAC) totaled $13.6 billion. Non-DAC donors and multilateral organizations accounted for at least another $2.4 billion.
  • Grants awarded by the top 1,000 U.S. foundations totaled $116.9 million. Foundation Center was able to identify an additional $60.1 million in funding by smaller foundations, public charities, and international foundations.
  • Storms generated the most investment from U.S. foundations (46 percent of all funding), while the largest proportion of giving was for response and relief (42 percent), with 19 percent of funding targeting reconstruction and recovery efforts.
  • Across data sources, the majority of funding targeted relief efforts.

Finally, I have three specific hopes for this report and its use by stakeholders:

  1. That the private funder community takes notice of the dashboard and uses the tool to understand funding flows to disasters globally.
  2. That the report and dashboard compel the funder community to increase their investments to disasters. Regrettably, the need for humanitarian assistance in response to complex humanitarian emergencies, rapid-onset natural disasters, and slow-onset natural disasters will not decline in years to come.
  3. That the funding community reflects on where and when it allocates disaster dollars and recognizes the need to fund beyond the immediate relief time horizon. Disaster-affected communities require financial investments that take them to long-term recovery.

When we released the Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2014 report, I said this:

With the knowledge we are gaining from this year's report, and will gain from future reports, we have the power to truly change our collective behavior – directing more funds in more strategic ways to ensure the needs of disaster-affected communities both domestically and globally are well taken care of....

While I am excited about the progress we have made over the past year, the sentiment expressed above still stands. We must encourage disaster dollars to be channeled in a manner that best meets the needs of those affected.

Headshot_regine_websterThe Center for Disaster Philanthropy will host a webinar on the report on Thursday, December 3, at 1:00 PM EST. We hope you'll join us for what promises to be a robust discussion around the report findings

Regine A. Webster is vice president of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. She can be reached at regine.webster@disasterphilanthropy.org.

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Posted by Jonathan Potter  |   November 18, 2015 at 03:58 AM

Thanks Regine, and congratulations. Its a really useful, clear and well-presented report.

I was tantalised by the foreword talking about foundations needing to look 'to maximize their impact and avoid duplication and imbalances'; the word 'mosaic' is a good one. As I looked at the figures I noticed the individual pieces of mosaic were generally small: lots of grants, many quite modest, to lots of organisations. Is this approach giving optimal impact for donors, intermediary organisations and those affected by disaster? In your view are the data supporting or contradicting what Mr Ottenhoff is suggesting? No need to answer me now: it can wait for an analysis in next year's report!

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