Maximizing Impact for Global Disaster Relief Efforts

Takeaways from the Council on Foundations Leading Together Conference
May 13, 2019 12:05 PM ET
Blog

At the recent Council on Foundations bi-annual conference, Leading Together, almost 1000 philanthropy leaders and business, government, and academia influencers gathered together to connect, share, and learn with one another. Celebrating 70 years, the Council on Foundations assembled a jam-packed agenda full of thought-provoking sessions, learning labs, tech bars, keynotes, as well as plenty of networking and entertainment opportunities for an event that not only educated, but truly lived up to its moniker of “Leading Together.”

Among the many topical sessions, “Fire & Water: Foundations on the Front Lines of Climate (No Matter What We Call It)” brought together a panel of leaders, including CyberGrants’ client the Walmart Foundation, to discuss the range of challenges facing those trying to make an impact in our communities. Moderated by Nadege Green from WLRN News, panelists included not only the Walmart Foundation, but representatives from the McConnell Foundation, the California Environmental Protection Agency, and the Miami Foundation.

“During disasters, everyone wants to take action,” stated Kabir Kumar, Senior Director, Community of the Walmart Foundation. He went on to share Walmart’s philosophy on building partnerships with both rescue and recovery groups to maximize the impact of their relief efforts. During Hurricane Maria, Walmart donated $7M to not just response efforts, but also recovery programs to ensure their contribution went to developing long-term disaster relief. This aligned the dollars donated to their cause directly to their corporate philosophy of building, developing and supporting the communities in which they live.

Dawn Sherrefs of the Miami Foundation agreed. As the Director of Public Affairs, she shared how people are quick to cover and discuss the extreme stories, and often the progress made toward long-term sustainable recovery is overshadowed. For example, funding for improving and securing Miami Beach has resulted in the decrease of flood insurance for the surrounding area. A huge impact for the local community, but not a highly publicized result.

In the end, the following key takeaways for successful disaster recovery efforts were shared:

  • It’s critical to capture funds to support efforts both as disasters occur, but also recurring throughout the year to ensure enough support for the increasing volatility in the global climate.

  • The need to be agile and respond to global events quickly by disbursing funds to appropriate, vetted NPOs is higher than ever.

  • Building positive relationships with NPOs can ensure funds are used for causes aligned with your purpose.

  • A strategic approach is needed to not only support response efforts, but build sustainable programs for long-term relief.

It was hard not to leave inspired and energized hearing from so many philanthropic leaders sharing best practices and stories on how to change the world. Together, we truly can make incredible happen!