Based on an analysis of grants of $10,000 or more reported by a thousand of the largest U.S. foundations, the report, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2014: Data to Drive Decisions (52 pages, PDF), found that 234 foundations awarded 884 grants for natural and manmade disasters and humanitarian crises in 2012. In a year that saw Hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, wildfires in Colorado, tornadoes in the Midwest and South, drought in West Africa, famine in Somalia, and flooding in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Thailand, natural disasters received the largest share (58 percent) of disaster grants ($64.9 million), followed by humanitarian disasters (11 percent/$12.1 million) and manmade accidents (2 percent/$2.1 million).
According to the study, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation headed the list of disaster funders ($17.9 million), followed by the Margaret A. Cargill ($7.8 million) and Rockefeller ($5.4 million) foundations, while the top ten grant recipients included the American Red Cross ($12.7 million), Mercy Corps ($4.7 million), and Oxfam America ($4.6 million).
Funded by the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, the report includes case studies of three disasters — the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the 2011 tornado in Joplin, Missouri — as well as profiles of three foundations that are taking an innovative approach to disaster philanthropy: the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the Oklahoma City Community Foundation, and the UPS Foundation. As part of the project, Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy will launch an online data platform in 2015.
"The data network and resulting website can help shift how organizations understand, prepare for, and respond to disasters," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "Our goal is to empower donors to make more effective giving decisions related to disasters and ultimately improve the practice of philanthropy through better coordination and transparency."