Philanthropic Support for Disasters

Since Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti and the Southeastern U.S. earlier this month, our Hirsch & Associates clients have asked for our recommendations on where to contribute. The groups we recommend to them are heavily vetted by us and represent only a handful of deserving organizations doing incredible work under extremely difficult conditions. The need is so overwhelming, especially in Haiti, that the more support we can mobilize for relief and recovery, the better.

That said, there are a few guiding principles that inform our recommendations and that philanthropists might consider before responding to a natural disaster of this scale:

* Find organizations on the ground that consider the full lifecycle of disasters (preparedness, immediate relief, and long-term recovery). This requires a long-term, on-the-ground commitment in the affected communities before, during, and after the disaster.

* Focus on organizations that ensure equitable distribution of critical services. Responders must be on the ground to help ensure that vulnerable populations—primarily women, children, the disabled and the elderly—receive aid as well as those who can access assistance more readily.

* Peak giving and media attention typically occur on the fourth day after a major disaster, and then precipitously drop off. Long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts are crucial, particularly after media attention and immediate relief funding have dwindled.