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Three Ways Funders Can Plan Now For Above-Normal Hurricane Season



With the kickoff of hurricane season on June 1, forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center say the Atlantic could see another above-normal hurricane season this year. Here is a snapshot of their predictions for the season that runs through the end of November:

  • 45% of an above-normal season

  • 70% likelihood of 11 to 17 named storms

  • 5 to 9 of which could become hurricanes

  • 2 to 4 of which could be major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, or 5)

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Natural Disasters Prompt Difficult Questions for Funders

Author: Regine Webster


I am sitting here in my office in Nashville, Tennessee, surrounded by a steady rain that represents the remnants of Irma. No likelihood of flooding here, but definitely a reminder of the power of water – either via floods or hurricanes – and the devastation that it can bring.

SECF’s footprint covers the 11 states that are arguably hardest hit by hurricanes domestically. Last year, Florida and the Carolinas faced Hurricane Matthew, Louisiana saw vast parts of the state devastated by flooding, and Georgia has been hit by rare winter weather. Until just this past week, it had been years since Florida took a direct hurricane hit. That changed radically this past weekend.

While reports of destruction following Hurricane Irma are still coming in, we know a hurricane and subsequent flooding can cause protracted power outages, water quality concerns, infrastructure losses – roads, hospitals, public health systems – and massive damage to homes, roofs, and community structures.

We also know that the sheer number of global disasters (refugee crisis, famine in North Africa, wildfires in the western United States, Mexico earthquake, South Asia flooding, and Hurricane Harvey) is making it difficult for the philanthropic community to know where to allocate their resources most effectively.

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Helping Caribbean Islands Recover from a Devastating Hurricane Season

Author: Dwayne Marshall


As anyone who lives in the Southeast knows, hurricanes can cause massive devastation and disruption. Streets and homes flood, power disappears, cellular networks go down and basic necessities are suddenly in short supply.

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma represented a 1-2 punch, hitting communities along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. In their wake, many foundations stepped up, creating or contributing to funds to fuel relief efforts that will last long after these storms fade from the headlines.

Unfortunately, as we’ve all seen in the past week, this hurricane season’s impact has spread beyond the Southeast. Many island nations and U.S. territories in the Caribbean, which were already hit hard by Harvey and Irma, were also dealt another blow by Hurricane Maria. Some places, like Barbuda, were rendered nearly uninhabitable. In other places, particularly Puerto Rico, residents are facing the possibility of weeks or even months without electricity.

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Look to Your Community Foundation in Times of Crisis

Author: Foundant Technologies


This post originally appeared on Exponent Philanthropy’s PhilanthroFiles blog.

Everyone wants to help during a crisis, and, for many, that means giving money. But few understand what it takes to distribute funds to the people, businesses, or nonprofits that will create the greatest impact and fulfill the most need—especially if the money lives in different funds at different organizations.

Enter community foundations, which are inherently good at sharing information and resources. In fact, they do it all the time. Community foundations exist to help others do more with less and find ways to strengthen a community through common resources, ingenuity, and communication.

In the community foundation world, you should never have to ‘reinvent the wheel,’ especially with things like disaster preparedness and recovery. Our community of community foundations is amazing and collaborative.

— Bridget Wilkinson, Executive Director, Bozeman Area Community Foundation

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Responding to Hurricane Florence

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


UPDATE (Monday, September 17): After making landfall last week, Florence has continued to bring catastrophic rain and flooding to the Carolinas. SECF has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to present a special webinar, Hurricane Florence: What's Next?, at 3:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 18. Click here to register!

Within hours, Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall somewhere along the Carolina coast. The Category 2 storm is expected to produce high winds, massive flooding and torrential rains.

Many SECF member foundations, and their staff and trustees, are in areas that have already been evacuated or will be affected by the storm as it moves through the region in the coming days. We are keeping everyone affected by this storm in our thoughts and hope those who have had to leave their communities are able to return home soon. SECF is also ready to support any member organization directly affected by the hurricane.

Many grantmakers are already wondering what they can do to assist with relief and recovery in the wake of Florence. SECF has partnered with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy for a special webinar at 3:00pm Eastern on Tuesday, September 18, on how grantmakers can respond to the storm. Registration is now open at CDP's Hurricane Florence overview page.

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Philanthropy Responds to Hurricane Dorian

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


After battering the Bahamas earlier this week, Hurricane Dorian is now bearing down on the Southeastern coast, bringing dangerous rain, wind and storm surge flooding to the Carolinas. 

Current projections show the storm’s effects will be felt most strongly in South Carolina through Thursday night before moving up the coast to North Carolina and Virginia.

Already, several SECF members and partners have activated relief funds that will support recovery once Dorian passes. These include:

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has already announced a webinar for funders interested in supporting recovery efforts in The Bahamas. We will notify SECF members of other programs as they are announced.

SECF is also ready to provide support to any members directly affected by the storm – please contact our offices at (404) 524-0911 to reach our staff.

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COVID-19 Coronavirus: What Foundations Need to Know

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


UPDATE (March 16, 2020): New guidance from the CDC released March 15 recommends postponing all gatherings of 50 people or more for at least two months.

The SECF staff is working remotely but remains available to support our members. You can reach our team via e-mail or by calling (404) 524-0911. Read more about our response here.

UPDATE (March 12, 2020): We have added new information from the CDC on steps foundations can take to slow the spread of the virus. See the links below in the How Foundations Can Prepare section.

UPDATE (March 8, 2020): New guidance from the CDC recommends that anyone in a higher-risk group for becoming very sick due to COVID-19 should "stay home as much as possible." Those at higher risk include "older adults and people who have severe, chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease."

More than 1,000 cases of COVID-19 coronavirus have been reported in the United States since January 21 – this includes cases reported in 10 of 11 states in the SECF footprint.

The spread of the virus has sparked discussion of not only how philanthropy can best respond, but also of how foundations can best operate in an environment where fears of the disease are running high and where separating fact from rumor and misinformation can be difficult.

SECF has put together a collection of resources to help members deal with the impact of this growing pandemic. In addition, our staff is available to provide further assistance if needed – please contact us at (404) 524-0911 if you need our support.

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COVID-19 Resource Round-Up

Author: Stephen Sherman


Your SECF colleagues may have advice to share about steps they are taking in response to the outbreak – our Member Listservs (login required) provide an easy way to reach out and learn from each other.

Our staff is also available to provide support – call the SECF offices at (404) 524-0911 and we can help connect you with other resources and information.

Staying Updated

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Responding to COVID-19, and More, in... Nashville, Tennessee

Author: Amy Fair


This post continues a series highlighting the responses of SECF members to the COVID-19 pandemic in their communities. We will use this series to highlight partnerships, coalitions and innovative examples of giving that help those affected by this crisis. This installment was provided to SECF by Amy Fair, vice president of donor services at The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

If your foundation is involved in a program you would like to see highlighted here, contact David Miller, director of marketing and communications, at david@secf.org.

Disaster Dispatch from Nashville: Tornado Recovery in the Midst of COVID-19

With the New Year being 2020 and the 10th anniversary of the historic 1,000-year floods in Tennessee, there were exhibits planned, news stories being prepared all around the city of Nashville, and an opinion piece in The New York Times titled “Nobody Cared When Nashville Drowned” from Nashville-based author and journalist Margaret Renkl.

To commemorate this natural disaster’s impact on our community, we decided that we didn’t want our activities to join the chorus of those looking back, although we knew these reflective activities would be beneficial. Instead, we set in motion a plan to look ahead and plan for the next disaster – we just didn’t know it would arrive so soon.

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee’s history with supporting and funding disaster recovery in our community and elsewhere is nearly as long as our organizational history, which began in 1991. In partnership with donors, we have provided relief funding through the years for responding to disasters, including floods, hurricanes, mass shootings, tornadoes, typhoons, and wildfires. But our most significant role has been at home as a named partner in Metro Nashville and Davidson County’s Comprehensive Emergency Management Plan (CEMP). In this role, we provided $15 million in funding in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee communities for relief and recovery efforts following the May 2010 Flood over the course of two years.

We also participated as a member of our local VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster). VOAD continued to meet for several years after the funding of recovery was complete, but eventually went dormant when the concerns of disaster no longer felt like an immediate threat to our community, and when the members named in the CEMP agreement with the city continued to meet on a quarterly basis with Nashville’s Office of Emergency Management. 

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Supporting Communities Affected by Hurricane Laura

Author: Southeastern Council of Foundations


At least six people are dead following the devastation of Hurricane Laura, which made landfall early Thursday near Lake Charles, Louisiana, as a powerful Category 4 storm.

Officials on the ground are just beginning to assess damage from the storm, which, while weakened, has also brought significant rainfall to the rest of Louisiana and Arkansas. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, “areas hit by Laura include regions of the continental U.S. that have some of the counties/parishes with the lowest median income in the country. These areas are highly dependent on subsistence work, manufacturing, oil and gas, and other industries that can be deeply affected by hurricane-related disruptions. They also have some of the lowest road and public transportation densities in the U.S.”

Philanthropy has a critical role to play in natural disaster recovery, particularly once initial relief efforts by government and organizations like the Red Cross have run their course. Two community foundations in the area have set up funds that are taking donations – money raised for these funds will go toward long-term relief and recovery:

Other community foundations in areas affected by the storm include: 

Finally, the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has an Atlantic Hurricane Season Recovery Fund that has been created to help focus on the greatest areas of need for the recovery process.

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Southeastern Council of Foundations
100 Peachtree Street NW, Suite 2080
Atlanta, GA 30303

Visiting SECF:
All staff are working remotely at this time but can still be reached via email and by calling (404) 524-0911.

Monday-Thursday from 9:00am–6:00pm (ET)
Friday from 9:00am–12:00pm (ET)

Phone: (404) 524-0911
Fax: (404) 523-5116

Mission: SECF strengthens Southern philanthropy, welcoming our members to listen, learn and collaborate on ideas and actions to help build an equitable, prosperous South.