As the Atlantic hurricane season begins, community foundations in Florida are preparing permanent disaster funds

After the collapse of a condominium tower in North Miami in June 2021, Rebecca Fishman Lipsey realized her organization needed to rethink the way it responded to disasters.

As CEO of the Miami Foundation, the city's premier community foundation, Fishman Lipsey went to work rallying support for victims of the tragedy that killed 98 people and destroyed the 136-unit building. The financiers were happy to help, but there was a problem.

She remembers business partners calling her and saying, “We're here, we're with you. Just fill out this application and the money will be here in six weeks.”

Those who lost their homes and loved ones couldn't wait that long. As Fishman Lipsey and her team scrambled to raise and distribute funds, she imagined the next crisis.

“It won't be one building in an isolated neighborhood,” she said. “It's going to be a climate disaster and I don't have internet to fill out an application. I can't wait six weeks for the check to clear. I already need everyone's ACH information. I need to know what supplies people need before the disaster.”

To meet these needs, the Miami Foundation has developed a new crisis response model. With help from several foundations and partners, including Citadel and the Miami Heat, it has created the Miami Disaster Resilience Fund, a permanent, revolving fund whose revenues could be used to support a network of nonprofits throughout Miami before, during and after a disaster. disaster.

By setting up a permanent fund, the Miami Foundation can make grants as soon as hurricane season begins and, if a storm does hit, quickly send aid. Money remains in the fund, which increases through investments, until it is needed. Over the past year, the Miami Disaster Relief Fund grew by more than 17% to approximately $8 million. “We're coming into this season with a million dollars that no one had to donate,” Fishman Lipsey said.

Community foundations – tax-exempt philanthropic institutions that manage a variety of funding sources to donate to other groups and individuals – typically target their donations to their local populations. But as community leaders, they are also being called upon to help with crises, a role they may fill more often as climate events become more frequent and intense.

Last year, the United States broke the record for most disasters with damage exceeding $1 billion. A forecast for the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, which begins June 1, issued last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association predicted at least 17 named storms and four to seven major hurricanes.

Foundations need new strategies to prepare, says Patty McIlreavy, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. “There is room across all types of philanthropic entities to explore how to set aside money for this and to be much more proactive,” she said. “We need foundations of all kinds to investigate the reality of the disasters that communities face.”

Having funds available in advance can also save you money – and possibly lives – as foundations can spend money on preparation. “It will be a lot cheaper,” McIlreavy said. “It is much harder to pull yourself out of a disaster and recover from it than if something is mitigated and nothing ever happens.”

On the first day of hurricane season, the Miami Foundation will provide a round of proactive grants to support programs to educate residents about what supplies to stock up on, how to prepare their homes and when to evacuate. It will help provide sandbags, tarps and other protective equipment.

If a storm is forecast, the foundation can immediately transfer money to those same partners. “If I see that the storm is going to hit in three days, I can send them the resources immediately,” said Fishman Lipsey. “I don't have to wait for the checks to clear.”

About 100 miles north of Miami, in Stuart, Florida, a much smaller community foundation is about to launch its own permanent disaster relief fund. The Martin-St. Community Foundation Lucie has raised $300,000 for the Local Disaster Relief Fund, with a goal of raising $500,000 by mid-summer.

When CEO Elizabeth Barbella heard Fishman Lipsey speak at a meeting of community foundation leaders last year, she talked about the frustration of having to wait too long to help in a crisis.

“Historically, in the middle of the storm, I was preparing something to reach out to our customers and friends and say, 'OK, it's real.' The storm struck. We will have to help the organizations on the front lines very quickly,” Barbella told the Associated Press. “And when the dust settled, we started reaching out to organizations asking for some simple application and then deploying those resources.”

To speed up that response, the foundation makes advance agreements with six local nonprofits that can provide basic needs such as food, medicine and housing after a storm.

One of those partners is House of Hope, located in Martin County, Florida. The bank started as a food bank forty years ago and has grown to provide a range of essential services, such as employment and housing support, to approximately 21,000 residents per month.

With a grant from the Local Disaster Relief Fund, House of Hope will distribute hurricane kits to its clients throughout the summer, filled with food, water and batteries.

Without this assistance, most of the organization's customers would not be able to stock up, said Rob Ranieri, CEO of House of Hope. “It's a few hundred dollars that they don't have in their budget.”

When a storm does hit, the fund supports House of Hope's work to replace what customers lose, such as perishable food that spoils during a power outage. Most of the people it helps are hourly workers, who don't get paid when businesses close. So the organization is ready to help them with rent and medical bills.

Paying House of Hope's own employees to work overtime, or using temporary staff to provide services, also becomes expensive. The agreement with the community foundation gives Ranieri confidence that he will have the resources to meet the need.

“Now we can plan, know we have the resources, we have things in order and we are ready to go,” he said. “It will make us an effective resource for the lower-income community, and it will happen almost immediately, like flipping a switch.”

______

Associated Press coverage of philanthropy and nonprofits is supported by the AP's partnership with The Conversation US, with funding from Lilly Endowment Inc. The AP is solely responsible for this content. For all of AP's philanthropy coverage, visit https://apnews.com/hub/philanthropy.

Related Posts

  • Business
  • June 18, 2024
  • 1 views
  • 4 minutes Read
Trump's proposal to exempt tips from taxes could cost $250 billion

Former President Donald Trump's pledge to stop taxing tips would cost the federal government up to $250 billion over 10 years, according to a nonpartisan watchdog group. The proposal –…

  • Business
  • June 17, 2024
  • 3 views
  • 2 minutes Read
Approximately 100,000 pet insurance policies are being canceled nationwide

Is pet insurance worth it? Is pet insurance worth it? 07:55 Nationwide will cancel coverage for about 100,000 animals nationwide, with the nation's largest pet insurance provider citing the rising…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Missed

Trump's proposal to exempt tips from taxes could cost $250 billion

  • June 18, 2024
Trump's proposal to exempt tips from taxes could cost $250 billion

Bedtime battles: 1 in 4 parents say their child can't sleep because they're worried or anxious

  • June 18, 2024
Bedtime battles: 1 in 4 parents say their child can't sleep because they're worried or anxious

Finbourne is raising $70 million for technology that turns dust from financial data into AI gold

  • June 18, 2024
Finbourne is raising $70 million for technology that turns dust from financial data into AI gold

Here are the best fiction books to read this summer : NPR

  • June 18, 2024
Here are the best fiction books to read this summer : NPR

RBA decision, S&P record high

  • June 18, 2024
RBA decision, S&P record high

The blood test for Alzheimer's ensures faster diagnoses and high accuracy at Mayo Clinic

  • June 18, 2024
The blood test for Alzheimer's ensures faster diagnoses and high accuracy at Mayo Clinic

Apple embraces open-source AI with twenty Core ML models on the Hugging Face platform

  • June 18, 2024
Apple embraces open-source AI with twenty Core ML models on the Hugging Face platform

The European election results raise fears about the weakening of climate ambitions

  • June 18, 2024
The European election results raise fears about the weakening of climate ambitions

Kansas is suing Pfizer for 'misleading statements' about its COVID vaccine

  • June 18, 2024
Kansas is suing Pfizer for 'misleading statements' about its COVID vaccine

Remco Evenepoel: The Tour de France contender who might have played for Belgium at Euro 2024

  • June 18, 2024
Remco Evenepoel: The Tour de France contender who might have played for Belgium at Euro 2024

Juneteenth Hack brings together black artists with augmented reality technology

  • June 18, 2024
Juneteenth Hack brings together black artists with augmented reality technology