Editor’s Note: As a partner of Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP), The Patterson Foundation (TPF) is always seeking ways of connecting, learning, sharing, evolving, and strengthening. To this end, TPF supported CDP's work with No Margin, No Mission, a social enterprise and national consulting practice that helps nonprofits diversify revenue, expand impact, and build a lasting future through entrepreneurship, innovation, and business strategy. Enjoy reading this blog by the CEO of Center for Disaster Philanthropy, Bob Ottenhoff.

This is a story about leverage.

The best foundations apply subject-matter expertise and decision-making rigor to provide charitable contributions that will make a difference on issues that matter.

But those principles aren’t always applied when it comes to natural disasters.

Disasters are by nature unplanned and chaotic. They surprise when we least expect it. And they often cause heart-breaking death and destruction that prompts all of us to want to do something – and do it immediately.

Surprisingly, despite the increase in the number and intensity of natural disasters, very few foundations have grant-making programs in disasters or have permanent staff assigned to a disaster-related profile. As a result, most disaster-related contributions are made within days of a disaster, especially when the event receives widespread media attention. CDP’s annual survey estimates that as much as 80 percent of all disaster-related funding goes for immediate relief. This leaves out support for much of the planning and preparation that could lessen the impact of disasters and ignores the lengthy recovering and rebuilding that is often required.

In recognition of these challenges, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy was created to help foundations become more strategic and effective with their disaster-related giving. CDP provides a variety of informational services, from publishing an annual Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy report and hosting a Disaster Philanthropy Playbook, to managing programs like the Midwest Early Recovery Fund, Louisiana Disaster Recovery Alliance, and most recently the Hurricane Harvey Recovery Fund.

From its inception, however, CDP has also occasionally provided advisory services to foundations with a special need or interest. These range from developing strategic plans, to managing grants programs, to conducting due diligence on appropriate recipients. The Patterson Foundation recognized that this nascent service was a strategic asset of CDP that could benefit both CDP and the foundation world if it could be strengthened and expanded. With TPF’s support, the consulting firm No Margin, No Mission was retained to help CDP develop a strategic business plan, expand its consulting services, and develop new business-oriented procedures.

The results will have a multiplier effect. With its new business plan, CDP expects to double its consulting revenues in the next few years, helping it achieve its goal of financial sustainability. More foundations will benefit from CDP’s consulting services meaning more contributions to disaster-related activities will be strategic and intentional. Most importantly, those better-directed contributions could affect millions of people and reduce unnecessary death and destruction.

That’s turning good into great.

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