What is the Center for Disaster Preparedness

If you are like millions of people around the world, you watched in horror as Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath tore up Texas and Louisiana. Many individuals were moved like the members of the Cajun Navy to move into the area to provide immediate help while thousands were moved to donate their hard-earned money to help victims. Most of the giving came within a week of the disaster and almost 80 percent of donations will come in the first month. Yet, recovery is a long-term process. As of September 12, 2017, 692,030 people had applied for federal emergency disaster help through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Who is the Center for Disaster Preparedness?

Nearly everyone who opened their Facebook and Google accounts to be confronted with a request for donations. Facebook even announced that they would match donors pledges up to $1 million. Those donations went to a Washington D.C.-based think-tank called the Center for Disaster Preparedness led by Bob Ottenhoff that has been in operation since 2012. In 2016, this organization operated on a seven-person staff with a $4.4 million budget. This is the first time that the organization will handle anywhere near the amount of donations they are likely to receive. In addition to providing funding for organizations working on hurricane relief, the group assists with disaster funding for lesser-covered events like the severe flooding in Asia.

What Does the Center for Disaster Preparedness Do?

Storm victims are unlikely to recognize this nonprofit in the immediate wake of the hurricane. In fact, they may never recognize the name because this organization is not aiming to do hands-on relief. Instead, it is a clearinghouse that will distribute funds to organizations that are providing relief now and far into the future. It is the goal of Center for Disaster Preparedness to identify unmet needs and encourage organizations to meet those needs. The center takes only 5 percent of donated funds to cover their administrative costs, and it allows donors to determine what disaster their donations will help fund. The first funds will not be distributed for two to six months after Hurricane Harvey wrecked havoc as it came on land at Rockport, Texas.

Who Directs the Center for Disaster Preparedness?

Robert Ottenhoff is the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Disaster Preparedness who is the former director of GuideStar. Regina A. Webster is the vice president of the center. In addition to working with FEMA, she has managed the emergency portfolio for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

 

Charities: The Good, The Bad, and The Questionable

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, the country as a whole has felt an overwhelming need to give back to those who have had their lives devastated by the tragedy. With the overwhelming need to help, comes unscrupulous characters who feel an overwhelming need to rip off those who only wish to do good. With thousands of charities ready and willing to take your donations, one must do some homework before making a donation and here are some things to consider when considering a donation to a charity organization.

Are they known?

This one is a no brainer. If you are nervous about where your funds may end up then consider a charity with a long held reputation such as the red cross or the salvation army. The well-known charities are safer investments for your generous gift.

Unknown Charities

As previously stated, there are many thousands of charities out there all wishing to do go and just because we haven’t heard of them before, doesn’t mean they are not deserving of our donations. If you are unsure of the charity, search the internet for their name and the word scam. That is the quickest way to ascertain the validity of a charity. What’s more, see if they have an official website or ask them for their registered charity number or use the IRS search function for a list of registered charities.

Door knockers and phone calls

Nowadays the internet has curbed the need for door knockers and phone calls asking for donations to charities. In general, most charities set up donation pages on their websites and have numbers for you to call. They may advertise in the media, but it is a rarity to see them approach the public. That doesn’t mean they do not still employ such tactics but you still need to be leery. If someone knocks on the door asking for a donation to the red cross or the salvation army and they are not in uniform, then that should set off alarm bells. If in doubt just go to an official venue for the charity to make a donation. Phone scamming is also a problem and a good way to figure out if you are speaking to someone from the charity is to put the phone number from caller id (if you have it) into google and see if the number matches up with the charity. If caller ID is blocked ask them for a call back number. If they are reluctant then hang up the phone and save yourself a headache.

Those are just a few tips for your safety when it comes to charitable donations, and as always if you are in doubt go directly to the charity to make your donation.

Why Facebook Dropped the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Relief

In times of global strife, especially stemming from natural disaster, all available agencies seem to step into place and offer easy, direct ways to donate and help make a difference; Facebook has always been at the forefront of connecting people with places where they can donate to aid relief efforts. Previously, the social network acted as a pipeline for donations to the American Red Cross, but in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Facebook has begun to steer donations and donators to a small, relatively unknown charity called the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP).

For many years, the Red Cross was the go-to charity when it comes to disaster relief efforts. In 2013 following Typhoon Haiyan and in 2015 during the Ebola outbreak, Facebook users were prompted by a button on their home feeds to donate money to the cause through the Red Cross. Even now, President Trump and former President Obama, alongside numerous other celebrities and corporations, are donating copious sums to the charity giant. So what prompted the largest social network in the world to break from the norm and reroute hopeful humanitarians to a much smaller nonprofit?

Plainly put, the Red Cross caught a lot of backlash and criticism for how it handled the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the subsequent millions of dollars it raised for relief. Following the devastating disaster, millions of people donated to the Red Cross which collected nearly half a billion dollars to help recovery efforts. It pledged to use the $500 million to help rebuild the devastated areas with new homes, roads, and schools.

However, we’re now seven years after the fact and, while the Red Cross claims to have provided housing to over 130,000 people with that money, only six permanent homes have actually been constructed. While the organization is vastly experienced in the realm of providing emergency disaster relief, it is woefully inexperienced when it comes to rebuilding after a disaster in a developing nation. It also appears to have grievously miscalculated the number of Haitians whom the relief efforts impacted, citing the number at 4.5 million Haitians: Jean Max Bellerive, prime minister of Haiti during the earthquake, notes that this simply cannot be possible as the number of Haitians affected by the crisis did not even come close to 4.5 million.

All of these discrepancies, a desire to get help where it’s needed in as timely a manner as possible, and a goal of changing how people view donations were what prompted Facebook to partner with CDP instead of the Red Cross. In less than four hours after announcing the partnership, CDP reached Facebook’s matching goal of $1 million.