Natural disasters can – and do – happen anytime, anywhere, and to anyone. Responding swiftly with the appropriate resources can make an enormous impact on the devastated communities. Often communities and groups already at risk are hit hardest by disasters, and their lives are the most significantly disrupted. Having the right relationships, networks, and portfolio of nonprofits in place before disasters occur enables the Foundation to quickly direct resources to disaster response organizations, allowing relief workers to mobilize swiftly in times of need.
While our overall disaster support fluctuates yearly depending on how many incidents occur, our approach has become more strategic and proactive to enable efficient and immediate assistance when a natural disaster hits. We continue to provide aid in the critical response and recovery stages, and are bolstering our presence in the preparation and mitigation stages by funding organizations engaged in those aspects of disaster management.
Our multi-year investment in Team Rubicon Global (TRG) has helped increase the number of Greyshirts (trained volunteers) to over 76,000 and improved the capacity of the Team Rubicon (TR) Network to respond to disasters with consistent operational effect around the world. Through March of 2018, the TR Network – which pairs the skills of military veterans with first responders – deployed 4,312 volunteers responding to 80 operations including seven internationally. The TR Network also continues to grow with increased efficiencies and support delivered through TRG's support programs. By mentoring new TR member organizations through their launch and providing training and operational support to build operational capability, TRG reduces cost and time to market, steadily advancing the entire TR Network every year.
With a two-year, $1m investment in the American Red Cross (Red Cross), we are funding elements of their Red Cross Visual Interactive Event Wizard (RCView), which will provide shared data and situational awareness so the Red Cross and its supporters can better utilize resources and meet client needs with faster decisions and deployment. The Foundation is also helping fund new volunteer trainings to provide better services and increased comfort to high-need groups including children, and those with medical needs and emotional needs.
When disaster strikes, a community can only recover if its businesses reopen to provide goods and services, income for their employees, as well as a critical sense of normalcy. Unfortunately, across the United States, 43% of small businesses struck by a disaster do not recover and close within six months, slowing a community’s recovery and leaving people without jobs and the means to rebuild their lives. Coming back from disaster raises unique issues for small businesses that lack the resources of larger organizations as well as the staff and expertise to address recovery issues. Of the more than 900,000 registered small businesses within the FEMA Disaster Declared Counties from the 2017 hurricane season in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, almost one in five were owned by women and almost one in four were owned by minorities. Our $100,000 investment in the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Disaster Help Desk will help provide critical guidance and support to small businesses as they prepare for and work to recover from disasters, while also helping to prevent long-term disruption in employment, access to community services, and financial stability that can undermine communities and families facing disasters.
Charlotte Coker Gibson
Executive Director, Charitable Foundation, PwC US