Are you ready to respond?

A person in a pair of red pajamas holds a red teddy bear by its pawSouthwest Initiative Foundation is one of 23 organizations participating in an effort called the Philanthropic Preparedness, Resiliency and Emergency Partnership. That is quite a mouthful, so we call it PPREP for short.

The goal of PPREP is to create a network of learning and support among community foundations that helps them better understand their role in disaster preparedness and response. This group of community foundations representing a 10-state region spanning the central United States has been meeting twice a year for sites visits, learning opportunities and networking.

You might be wondering, “What does a community foundation have to do with responding to a disaster?” Often when an unexpected crisis arises, all kinds of fundraising efforts pop up, including crowd-funding sites like Go Fund Me, Indiegogo or Kickstarter. It’s often difficult or impossible to verify the authenticity of these fundraising campaigns, or ensure they have a responsible process in place for distributing funds. Community foundations, on the other hand, operate under well-established guidelines, have local accountability and have already created relationships with community members.

What is a better way to fundraise in the event of a disaster? Here is an example. When a tornado struck the communities of Litchfield and Watkins in 2016, SWIF helped the Litchfield Area Community Foundation create a fund to assist with community needs. The Litchfield Area Community Foundation was able to direct these dollars to individuals, businesses or community groups with a demonstrated need. Using an established infrastructure, donors were able to contribute to help out their neighbors.

Because of our work with PPREP, SWIF has recently begun work on a Disaster Preparedness Toolkit for community foundation affiliates. While no one likes to think about a potential disaster striking their town, this toolkit will help you to better understand the role your foundation can play in the event of a tornado, flood or other crisis. Watch for more information regarding the toolkit in the coming months.

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