Nonprofits Learn Valuable Disaster Preparation Lessons

Nonprofits Learn Valuable Disaster Preparation Lessons

Posted on August 07, 2014 by Ryan Simonson

Bob Ottenhoff, CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), recently spoke to key local government and nonprofit leaders about how they can best prepare for response and recovery following disasters. His message was factually astounding. Here are some key points worth memorizing:

1. 40% of all hurricanes that make landfall in the U.S. hit Florida

2. Tampa and Miami are the two cities most likely to experience hurricanes

3. 37% of Florida and specifically 125,000 people in Tampa live within the FEMA identified storm surge area

4. Manatee and Sarasota counties are situated at the confluence of the highest social vulnerability and the highest potential for simultaneous multiple hazards in Florida.

As Sarasota residents, we are aware of the damage caused by tropical storms and hurricanes. But as they say, “time is a healer” and we have been blessed with a decade of relatively mundane tropical weather that has collectively wiped away our fear. High leadership turnover in response positions combined with the demographic realities of our aging population present challenges for planning. Luckily, we have strong personalities and subject matter experts dedicated to defeating complacency and moving forward with response cycle planning.

Ed McCrane, chief of Sarasota County Emergency Management, took the opportunity to share his pride in the integration of the Sarasota C.O.A.D. (Community Organizations Active in Disaster), the local government, and state and federal response plans. Dr. Dave Sutton, the newly elected president of the Sarasota C.O.A.D., spoke about upcoming cross-county planning conferences to organize local nonprofits as essential support agencies for the county emergency management chief. Roxie Jerde, CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, shared their role as a funneling agency for state and federal disaster response/recovery funding.

Nonprofits in attendance learned valuable lessons on effective internal disaster preparation as well as the essential responsibility of connecting with like-minded agencies to multiply the value of their collective efforts.

In conclusion, here are a few points Ottenhoff shared about how nonprofits can thrive through a disaster.

1. Plan for the long term.

2. Disaster response and recovery is a marathon not a sprint.

3. Ensure that you add disaster funding to your mission even if it isn’t your dedicated sphere of influence. Afterall, your organization needs to survive the disaster to continue working in your space.

4. Network with experts to ensure that you are prepared and also to see how your unique skill set could assist in the overall response and recovery effort.

5. If you will be seeking donations for response/recovery missions, ensure financial transparency.

For additional information, visit and follow Bob Ottenhoff on Twitter: @BobOttenhoff and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy: @funds4disaster

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


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