Guest Post: Leveraging Brainpower and Resources for Disaster Philanthropy Success

Guest Post: Leveraging Brainpower and Resources for Disaster Philanthropy Success

Posted on February 28, 2013 by Robert G. Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Editor's Note: Bob Ottenhoff is the President and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Prior to joining CDP, Bob spent a decade as president and CEO of GuideStar, an industry leader in the use of providing high-quality data to help donors make better decisions and improve nonprofit practice.

The inspiration for this blog started with a simple tweet I saw on The Patterson Foundation's web site.  The tweet connected me to a USA Today article about “tech’s new entrepreneurial approach to philanthropy.” A quote in the article from Suzanne DiBianca, president of about philanthropy caught my eye:  “It’s not just throwing a check over a wall. That is the old model.”

Ah, I said to myself. Now I know why The Patterson Foundation linked to a story mostly about foundations three thousand miles away from their home in Florida.  That single sentence sums up The Patterson Foundation's philosophy about philanthropy:  it’s not just about money – it’s about harnessing all available resources in order to create meaningful change.

The dictionary describes  “a partnership” as  “an arrangement where parties agree to cooperate to advance their mutual interests.”  Mutual interests – I like that. In the case of The Patterson Foundation and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), both parties hold passionate goals about what we want to accomplish.  And both parties have considerable assets, capabilities, as well as shortcomings.  By agreeing to collaborate, we gain new capabilities and together we can accomplish more.

Both parties have ambitious missions. The Patterson Foundation “believes in delivering value far beyond a single act of philanthropy and creating ripple effects that are felt beyond a single community.”  CDP is content with nothing less than transforming disaster philanthropy, helping donors become more effective in their giving throughout the full arc of the disaster lifecycle.

We share mutual goals. Both The Patterson Foundation and CDP want to assist in the long-term recovery of areas affected by disasters and develop an organizational infrastructure to learn from disaster philanthropy so we can be more effective when the next disaster hits.

We both recognize that we can’t achieve our goals alone.  The Patterson Foundation “believes that New Realities emerge when organizations engage in innovative collaboration, sharing the value of what they learn by working together to achieve a synergy that benefits all involved and the wider community.” CDP believes that disaster philanthropy can be enhanced by having donors share knowledge, pool resources, and coordinate their disaster responses.

Our mutual interests are indeed many in number. As we begin this partnership, we draw inspiration from each other. We go into this adventure knowing that our chances of success are much greater by pooling our brainpower and resources in order to transform the world of disaster philanthropy.

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


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