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8 Principles of Good Disaster Grantmaking

1. First, do no harm.

2. Stop, look and listen before taking action.

3. Don't act in isolation.

4. Think beyond the immediate crisis to the long-term.

5. Bear in mind the expertise of local organizations.

6. Find out how prospective grantees operate.

7. Be accountable to those you are trying to help.

8. Communicate your work widely, and use it as an educational tool.

Responding to the Hurricanes in the Caribbean

Updated September 29, 2008

Hurricanes Gustav, Hanna and Ike have swept across the Caribbean, leaving devastation in their wake. In Haiti, the poorest country in the Americas, aid workers are reporting that at least 850,000 people have been affected, while the death toll has reached 337. Thousands of homes have been destroyed and crops and livestock have been wiped out. In Cuba, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies reported seven deaths on September 3. In Isla de la Juventud Province, the hurricane impacted more than 90,000 people, damaged homes and infrastructure, and destroyed the electrical grid, according to Cuban officials. Other island nations have also been affected.

The UN's Office of Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief has issued a Flash Appeal for over $100 million to help affected communities, demonstrating the severity of the current situation.

Several resources are available to get information about and support relief efforts.

AlertNet, a humanitarian news network from the Reuters Foundation, provides detailed news updates on the extent of damage and ongoing humanitarian relief efforts in affected areas..

ReliefWeb: A project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), this website serves as a clearing house for information relating to hurricane affected areas.

Please note: This resource is intended for grantmakers interested in responding to the hurricanes in the Caribbean and is provided for educational and informational purposes only. Please consult the Disclaimer for a full explanation of the purposes and limitations of this information.

NGOs and Foundations

  • The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has launched an appeal for USD 5.8 million to support the humanitarian operation of the Cuban Red Cross.
  • GlobalGiving: The web-based initiative connects donors to projects worldwide. Donations to Partners In Health, which will support relief and recovery programs in communities affected by the hurricanes in Haiti can be made through their website.
  • United Nations Foundation: Donations can be made to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF).
  • The Lambi Fund of Haiti: Through their community microcredit program, Lambi Fund is helping members of peasant organizations buy food and other things for their families to re-establish their lives.
  • Intermediary Grantmaking Organizations: Intermediaries are generally public charities that offer fee based-services designed to meet the needs of grantmakers and individuals who wish to give outside the country in which they are based but prefer not to take on the responsibilities of doing so directly. This section is organized by issue area and geographic focus.

Government and Multilateral agencies

  • United Nations World Food Programme: WFP is sending a steady stream of food and humanitarian supplies by air and sea to the devastated port city of Gonaives and to the storm-battered southern and western areas of Haiti.
  • International Organization for Migration: The leading inter-governmental organization in the field of migration and works closely with governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental partners. IOM has so far distributed non-food and shelter assistance to some 7,000 families in the wake of Gustav and Hanna, and is appealing for USD 13.18 million as stockpiles are running low.
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): UNICEF has mobilised over US$ 1 million to respond to the immediate needs of those affected by the storms, and a Flash Appeal for funds to aid in the response is expected by all UN agencies in Haiti.
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance has noted that humanitarian conditions in Hait are dire and has pledged additional funding to assist those affected by the recent storms. USAID's total contribution to Haiti tops $10 million. The Agency has also approved $100,000 in emergency relief funds to help meet the immediate needs of those in Cuba affected by Hurricane Gustav.

General Resources for Disaster Grantmaking

  • Disaster Grantmaking: A Practical Guide for Foundations and Corporations: A joint product of the Council on Foundations and the European Foundation Centre, this free publication suggests eight principles, listed on the left, plus practical tips for grantmakers to consider when responding to emergency situations. Download the PDF.
  • Disaster Relief: Providing Assistance Through Charitable Organizations: Prepared by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service Exempt and Government Entities division.  Although this publication does not focus on international grantmaking it extends advice on how to give through existing U.S. charitable organizations, how to set up a new charitable organization and the requirements for documentation. Download it here (in PDF).

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