Large U.S. Foundations Nearly Doubled Disaster Giving in 2014

Large U.S. foundations gave a total of $225.7 million in response to disasters and humanitarian crises in 2014, nearly twice as much as in 2013, a new report from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Foundation Center finds.

According to the report, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2016: Data to Drive Decisions (15 pages, PDF), 70 percent, or $157.6 million, of the grant dollars awarded to disaster-related causes by a thousand of the largest U.S. foundations in 2014 went toward fighting the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. Most of that funding supported immediate response and relief efforts in the form of cash contributions and donations of medical supplies and equipment.

Funded by the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, with additional support from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the report found that while total grant dollars awarded by large U.S. foundations in response to disasters and humanitarian crises increased 93 percent on a year-over-year basis, fewer funders awarded fewer grants — 525 grants from 162 foundations — in 2014 than in 2013 (906 grants from 265 foundations), and that only 11 percent of total grant dollars awarded funded disaster preparedness and risk reduction efforts, with 73 percent awarded in support of immediate relief and response efforts.

The study also found that disaster-related funding from foundations, governments, multilateral donors, corporations, and individuals in 2014 totaled $22.5 billion worldwide, including $16.5 billion in official development assistance from member governments of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Development Assistance Committee, $62.3 million from corporate giving  programs, $7.8 million from donor-advised funds at Fidelity Charitable, and $18.8 million and $3.8 million through online platforms Network for Good and GlobalGiving.

"Our current funding patterns are unsustainable and insufficient. We need to do better," said CDP president and CEO Robert G. Ottenhoff. "We hope the data will motivate and inspire organizations to think about how to make disaster philanthropy more effective. When we act strategically by funding recovery and preparation, everyone ultimately benefits from resilient, stronger communities."

Ottenhoff and Lawrence T. McGill, Foundation Center's vice president for knowledge services, will host a free webinar on November 17 to discuss key findings from the report and demonstrate how the data on the Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy Dashboard and Mapping Platform can inform strategic disaster-related giving worldwide.

"Now the world can see how private foundations give in relation to disasters and global crises, and how their funding fits in the ecosystem of global humanitarian aid," said Foundation Center president Bradford K. Smith. "Ultimately, if we can provide knowledge that leads to strategic decision making, it will increase the effectiveness of disaster-related giving."

"Latest Report Details How Disaster Funding Is Distributed." Foundation Center and Center for Disaster Philanthropy Press Release 11/15/2016. "Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2016: Data to Drive Decisions." Foundation Center and Center for Disaster Philanthropy Report 11/15/2016.