Whether a hurricane or a superstorm, Sandy has left countless people seeking the basic necessities of shelter, clothing, food and water.
Individuals in the most affected areas will also need assistance over the long term. And once again, the need for charitable contributions to support this assistance is greatly needed. Fortunately, people are responding quickly to support relief efforts.
The images of people in need may trigger the impulse to contribute canned food, bottled water and used clothing. However, a national coalition of nonprofit and relief organizations say financial donations are the best way to help those affected by the storm. While goods may be satisfying to give, cash donations have more impact, since they allow relief organizations the flexibility to plug a need where they see fit.
To assist with relief and recovery efforts, the following funds have been established:
-The United Way system has established the United Way Hurricane Sandy Recovery Fund (www.donate.unitedwaynyc.org) to address both near-term and long-term recovery needs of communities most affected by the hurricane. Managed (without fee) by United Way of New York City, the fund will be used by United Way groups along the Eastern seaboard (Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia) to address both near-term and long-term recovery needs of communities most affected by the hurricane. Any contributions made through United Way of Central Maryland will be handled without fee.
-The Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore’s Disaster Relief Fund (www.cfes.org) benefits Lower Eastern Shore organizations serving victims of superstorm Sandy and will match the first $5,000 received.
-The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region (www.thecommunityfoundation.org) has established the Neighbors in Need: Sandy Relief Fund, which will provide money to nonprofits throughout our region offering hurricane relief services over the coming days and weeks.
Local agencies offering assistance include:
-American Red Cross (www.redcross.org/md/baltimore)
-The Maryland Food Bank is a central distribution point for food pantries across the state (www.mdfoodbank.org).
-The Salvation Army (www.uss.salvationarmy.org)
The Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers is working with other associations of grantmakers throughout the affected area to coordinate and track responses to the devastation. For information about how to help outside of Maryland, please visit the websites of these associations:
-Connecticut Council for Philanthropy (www.ctphilanthropy.org)
-Council of New Jersey Grantmakers (www.cnjg.org)
-Delaware Grantmakers Association (www.delawaregrantmakers.org)
-Delaware Valley Grantmakers — Philadelphia region (www.dvg.org)
-Philanthropy New York (www.philanthropynewyork.org)
-West Virginia Grantmakers Association (www.wvgrantmakers.org)
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is keeping abreast of what local and national funders are doing in response to Sandy. They are sharing this information and their analysis of the storm’s impact on their website, DisasterPhilanthropy.org. They have also established the CDP Hurricane Sandy Disaster Fund as well as a hotline for strategic philanthropic advice at 206-972-0187.
The center reminds us to follow best practices in disaster giving and offers the following recommendations as you consider how you will respond:
-Support medium- to long-term recovery efforts. Most donors will see the stirring images from the Atlantic and react today, donating dollars that are allocated for emergency humanitarian relief. Relief activities are obviously critical, but they do not address the need for longer-term recovery, which will require even more dollars and receive far less attention. Donors should consider making longer-term investments.
-Support organizations with a long-standing history of service in hurricane-affected areas. Supporting these organizations maximizes existing expertise and response capacity and minimizes the learning curve associated with working in a disaster environment.
-Add disaster funding to an existing mission. Donors can most effectively leverage their resources by tapping their in-house expertise.
-Support disaster-risk reduction. Advance preparation and early warning systems help reduce the damage disasters cause.
To find more information about relief efforts and to follow the local philanthropic response, visit, friend and follow ABAG at: www.abagrantmakers.org, www.facebook.com/ABAGrantmakers and on Twitter at @ABAGrantmakers.
Betsy Nelson, president of the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers, writes every other week for The Daily Record. She can be reached at 410-727-1205 or [email protected]