How Disaster Charity Can Pivot to Sustainable Philanthropy
This has been a heavy year of natural disasters: Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria; wildfires in California; the Mexico City earthquake; and a monsoon in Bangladesh.
In the aftermath of any natural disaster, money rushes in to help those in need. The media attention prompts people to write checks, but also to donate clothes, food and medicine.
It’s well meaning—it’s hard not to help people in the midst of a humanitarian crisis—but when the disaster passes from the news, people who give reactively, as an act of charity, turn their attention to something else.
For philanthropists who commit to difficult projects that last many years, the challenge of disasters is different. They need to find a way to maintain the momentum created by so much attention around a natural disaster to sustain long-term redevelopment. It’s tricky turning charity into philanthropy.
After all, Hurricane Harvey, which flooded Houston and drew charitable attention to the city, was not the first storm to wreak havoc on the area. Areas of Houston’s flood zones have a one-in-500 chance of flooding, known as a 500-year flood. But the floods can happen back to back.