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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 Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza and Southern Israel

Updated January 23, 2009

Nearly a month of military conflict in Gaza and Israel has left devastation in its wake, while residents of the affected areas are now facing a serious humanitarian crisis. Thousands are in immediate need of shelter, food, water and medical supplies.

The United Nations Relief Works Agency is on the ground coordinating much of the relief effort for the UN. They have issued a Flash Appeal [pdf] for Gaza. It estimates a need for over $34 million over the next four months to address the humanitarian situation. 

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

ReliefWeb, administered by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), is vehicle of information, designed specifically to assist the international humanitarian community in effective delivery of emergency assistance.

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 regions.
Please note: This resource is intended for grantmakers interested in responding to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and Southern Israel, 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.

In-Country Giving

  • Palestine Red Crescent Society: A member of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Palestine Red Crescent has issued a preliminary emergency appeal [pdf] for 6.8 million US$ to cover the costs of medicines and disposable items, relief goods, personnel, fuel, communication and running costs.
  • SOS Children’s Villages: Israel's children's villages in Arad and Migdal Haemek have taken in guests from endangered rocket attack areas in Southern Israel. SOS Children's Villages is active in 132 countries and territories worldwide. The variety of their international work is brought together by the umbrella organization SOS-Kinderdorf International, which unites the autonomous national associations.

NGOs and Foundations

  • InterAction: The largest alliance of U.S.-based international development and humanitarian nongovernmental organizations. InterAction members, along with their partner agencies, are mobilizing humanitarian assistance for Gaza to provide food, medicine and health services to the impacted populations. InterAction members agree to abide by a set of standards to ensure accountability to donors.
  • Welfare Association: Leading Palestinian foundation with offices in Gaza launched an appeal in early January 2009 to help Gaza residents have access to food, blankets, water, shelter and medical supplies. After the cease fire, WA will continue to support local organizations in Gaza in providing urgently needed services to their communities.   
  • New Israel Fund: The NIF supports equality and social justice for all Israelis. In response to an SOS from their colleagues in Gaza, NIF grantee Physicians for Human Rights sent vital supplies to save the lives of the injured.
  • GlobalGiving: The web-based initiative connects donors to projects worldwide. They are currently partnering with organizations to support and empower long-term peacekeeping efforts in both Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
  • American Charities for Palestine:  A collaboration between the American Task Force on Palestine and the US Agency for International Development, ACP marshals the expertise of the American private sector and the generous spirit of the American people to promote the development of the health and education sectors in Palestine.
  • United Jewish Communities: In response military operations and the growing humanitarian needs in Southern Israel, the UJC/Federation system launched the Israel Solidarity Drive, an effort aimed to raise $10 million in critical allocations to meet social needs in Southern Israel.
  • 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

  • Central Emergency Response Fund:  The UN's central donation facility collecting contributions year-round to help ensure that funds are on-hand to allow for immediate humanitarian relief in emergencies.  The UN Foundation accepts tax-deductible and on-line donations for the CERF. They have allocated $7 million for urgent needs in Gaza.
  • The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has issued a Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) appeal, with a budget of over $462 million for continued work in 2009. The document brings together 159 projects, including 96 from the NGO community and 63 from UN agencies.
  • United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF): UNICEF is appealing for $16 million in new funding to provide families and children with emergency supplies in Gaza.
  • World Food Program: WFP has launched Operation Lifeline Gaza, a campaign to raise awareness and resources for the victims of the conflict.
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID): The U.S. Government's development assistance agency makes available on its website specifics of U.S. government assistance. USAID also provides general information on how to help those affected by a disaster overseas.

General Resources for Disaster and International 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.
  • Best Practices in Disaster Grantmaking, Lessons from the Gulf Coast: Published by the New York Regional Association of Grantmakers (NYRAG) outlines best practice strategies identified by nonprofits, community foundations and governmental agencies. 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).
  • Anti-Terrorism Guidelines Compliance: International funders may have additional due diligence requirements to comply with U.S. Anti-Terrorism laws. In this section, you will find Council on Foundations resources intended to help provide guidance to grantmakers in responding to federal anti-terrorism initiatives.  

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