Nonprofits Funded Nearly $200 Million in Disaster Relief in 2016

Nonprofits Funded Nearly $200 Million in Disaster Relief in 2016

Global foundations and charities awarded a total of nearly $200 million in response to disasters and humanitarian crises in 2016, a report from the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Foundation Center finds.

Drawing from twelve data sources, including first-time analysis of contributions by non-U.S. donors, public charities, and smaller U.S. foundations, the report, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2018: Data to Drive Decisions (17 pages, PDF), documented $30 billion in private, public, corporate, and individual giving in 2016 to address major disasters and humanitarian crises that affected millions of people. The report also found that natural disasters accounted for 44 percent of disaster funding in 2016; that man-made accidents received 15 percent of the disaster funding total, with several large grants awarded to address the water crisis in Flint, Michigan; and that more than 40 percent of the total was awarded in support of response and relief efforts, while 17 percent supported reconstruction and recovery efforts (more than half of that amount related to the Flint water crisis).

The fifth in an annual series supported by the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, the report includes a first-ever five-year trends analysis of disaster-related giving by a thousand of the largest U.S. foundations. According to the study, disaster-related funding tends to be episodic and crisis-dependent. For example, funding for disaster relief spiked in 2014 due to several large grants focused on the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, then declined over the next two years. Similarly, in 2015, foundations increased their funding for complex humanitarian emergencies in response to the Syrian war and the subsequent refugee crisis. The analysis also found that natural disasters were the largest focus for disaster funders (59 percent, on average), and that response and relief efforts were the most frequently funded assistance strategy, averaging 47 percent of all disaster funding.

"Although this year's report includes additional data from non-U.S. donors, smaller U.S. foundations and public charities, the giving patterns are similar to their larger counterparts in the use of gifts for natural disasters and complex humanitarian crises," said the Center for Disaster Philanthropy president and CEO Robert G. Ottenhoff. "This is particularly relevant given what we've seen in the 2018 hurricane season — a seemingly briefer focus on giving even amid ever-worsening storms, signaling a greater need to support efforts at planning, preparation, and building stronger, more resilient communities."

Ottenhoff and Lawrence T. McGill, Foundation Center's vice president for knowledge services, will host a free webinar on November 14 in which they will discuss key findings of 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.

For key findings as well as an interactive dashboard and map, see the Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy website.