Guest Post: Past disasters help form future guidelines

Posted on August 09, 2012 by Guest Blogger

Editor's Note: Veronica Taylor is a consultant specializing in disaster preparedness, response and recovery. She previously worked with The Patterson Foundation to help deepen its understanding of the disaster space. As a guest blogger, she will cover issues relevant to the disaster sector. 

It’s been over a year since the horrific 2010 Alabama Tornadoes. In their response, The Patterson Foundation learned some core guidelines for future disasters. Here are some of their demonstrated best practices:

Urgency - Once the decision was made to make an investment, they responded with a sense of urgency in working with a local radio station to match gift cards. Quick, accurate communications and the call to action for donations outside of the affected area are critical. Over a third of private giving is done in less than the first four weeks after a sudden disaster.  Giving stops almost completely after five or six months – just when long-term recovery gets started.

Flexibility - Second, they were flexible. When the community indicated they didn’t need as many gift cards, TPF’s matching funds were diverted to the rebuilding efforts. Remember, in a disaster the realities are changing constantly, and changing at different times for different segments of the community. Therefore, it is imperative to listen to the community.

Partnership - Next, they were committed to strengthening partnerships. Along with the match challenge to the Community Foundation of Northeast Alabama, TPF also supported them in the development of a communications plan, provided media training, and reviewed their business plan and distribution guidelines. People with skills are needed as much, if not more, than dollars.

Leverage - Most importantly, TPF demonstrated their devotion to good stewardship of the Patterson family’s benevolence by leveraging the contribution through matching challenges. Ultimately, a $500,000 rebuilding fund was established.  Eula Tatman, Vice President of the Foundation said, “Through TPF’s innovative way of inspiring collaborative philanthropy, we went above and beyond our usual fundraising strategies and were able to take a proactive approach to growing philanthropy.”

What are your core guidelines for disaster giving?  Jump in the conversation or contact me at

  • Learn about these and other concepts used in TPF's approach to philanthropy.


Leave a comment

You are commenting as guest.