Inform and Engage Fund offers alternative look at disaster recovery

Inform and Engage Fund offers alternative look at disaster recovery

Posted on June 05, 2013 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

Janet Coats recently wrote blog posts about The Patterson Foundation's involvement with the Inform & Engage Fund, a collaboration which is part of the New Jersey Recovery Fund for Hurricane Sandy. In her posts, Janet discusses why TPF got involved and how the fund will function.

Over the past six months, TPF has sought opportunities to leverage its relationships to create a new reality in the way these types of recovery funds operate. Typically, money is raised from individuals or foundations, and the granting organization(s) develop a list of criteria for disbursing the funds. Nonprofits complete applications or proposals and send these in to the granting organization in hopes of being selected to receive funds. This process, while not easy, is very efficient and does get the money distributed.

Unfortunately, with this model, communication exchange is bound between the granting organization and the proposing organization -- no other funder has the opportunity to participate. Further, the proposing organization is limited to sending its proposed plan to one funder even though other funders may like to be aware of the proposed work.

We have a different experience with the Inform & Engage Fund.  As The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, and Community Foundation of New Jersey were establishing the fund, we (TPF) recognized that:

1) Other funders may be interested in supporting grant seekers

2) It would be beneficial to capture what is being learned throughout this process so that the communities impacted by future disasters might benefit

Because we had an existing relationship with Center for Disaster Philanthropy, we were able to invite them into the work being done by Dodge and Community Foundation of New Jersey.  (Ironically, on the first conference call, Dodge Foundation's CEO, Chris Daggett, and Center for Disaster Philanthropy's CEO, Bob Ottenhoff, discovered so many mutual relationships that we were surprised they didn't already know each other!).

As seeking "connective tissue to create new realities" often evolves, we really didn't know if there would be value in bringing Center for Disaster Philanthropy into the discussion. That is OK because we have learned that when smart and engaged people get together (Chris, Hans and Bob meet this designation), new ideas emerge. We have not been disappointed.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Community Foundation of New Jersey and Dodge and  have worked to leverage the proposals received by fundees for additional funding opportunities, have strategized on how to focus on longer term impact while balancing short-term need, and are capturing the good, bad and ugly along the way to share with other communities.  The "connective tissue" continues to evolve and the best of this collaboration is yet to come. We will keep you updated on the progress.


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


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