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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Here's Why Funding Long-Term Disaster Relief is Important


In the immediate wake of any crisis or disaster, generosity knows no limits. Donations flood in to help victims and communities get the resources and supplies they need to survive and begin the recovery process. Not long after the news crews and cameras leave, however, those donations turn from a flood into a trickle. Organizations continuing work on the ground have fewer resources to fund ongoing recovery efforts that often take many months, if not years.

At Charity Navigator, we encourage donors to see themselves as partners with the organizations you support. This includes the charities you contribute to in the wake of a disaster. Keep reading to learn more about what it means to be a charitable partner in long-term disaster recovery and why it’s important to the organizations you support and the communities they work in.



This weekend marked one year since Hurricane Harvey made landfall over Texas and the Gulf Coast. The storm packed unprecedented winds and rain that resulted in disastrous flooding in the Houston metro area and along much of the Texas coast. Total damages from Harvey are estimated at $125 billion making it one of the costliest disasters in United States history. And, experts believe total recovery could take as long as three years!

While most of the recovery burden will fall on the government, municipalities, and insurance companies, charities will step up to offer supplemental services and help families and communities that are likely to fall through the cracks of the recovery process. 

In our Hurricane Harvey anniversary report, we broke down how donors’ contributions were used to help affected individuals and communities in the wake of the storm. We surveyed 32 of the organizations that were featured in our Hurricane Harvey Hot Topic to learn more about how they helped in the days, weeks, and months following the storm; where their work continues today; and what they believe are the ongoing needs of the communities they’re working in.

Support from donors, like you, was used to purchase and distribute package food and water, provide hot meals and emergency shelter, care for animals, and purchase construction supplies to begin gutting and rebuilding homes. The wave of immediate support was critical to helping families and communities survive the storm and get to work once the floodwaters began to recede. But, as time goes on, different needs emerge and organizations working on the ground continue to require support to address them.

The charities we surveyed about Harvey said the three greatest needs at this time are affordable housing, counseling and mental health services, and rebuilding resources. While there are economic and geographical nuances to these needs, they are often the same long-term needs that follow any disaster. Take a look at this blog post to learn more. 

Supporting long-term disaster recovery isn’t “sexy” but it is important. Coming together to support and care for the needs of the people and communities affected by a disaster is the only way to help them achieve successful recovery. It takes many hands to rebuild. This is why we encourage donors to follow up with the charities they support after a disaster.

Our Hurricane Harvey anniversary report is a great way to learn about what’s been done, what needs to be done, and what donors can do to help today--one year later. Over the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing reports about the Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.

We hope these reports will inspire you with stories of what can be done when donors come together to help their neighbors and encourage you to make a long-term commitment to support the ongoing recovery work in areas devastated by these storms and others. 

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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