Why Does Philanthropy Matter in a Crisis?

July 15 2016 • Rachel Calderon


When a natural disaster strikes or a tragedy hits home, it’s part of our instinct to rush in and help our community in need. We see the hurt and confusion taking over friends and neighbors in need and almost immediately funds from all corners start piling in to show compassion and to help meet immediate needs. That is the human response.

But what happens once the news trucks go home and the bright lights turn off?

That’s where the work to rebuild begins. We’re talking about the long-term repair and healing of our community. This includes things like mental health counseling for those that are living with the grim effects of trauma, increasing our cultural competency in a diverse and vibrant community, organizing and facilitating community conversations between groups that usually don’t talk to each other - all of these important pieces come together to make a community stronger than before.

These pieces include long term needs that can carry on for years after the event.

The questions come up: How can we be better than before? What are the gaps in services that nonprofits are providing to survivors and their families? What are the underlying causes of this event (not related to advocacy or policy)? How can all of the affected communities begin to talk to each other, maybe even for the first time, to build a strong and collaborative response? And, what if issues pop-up that we had no clue even existed?

That’s where philanthropy comes in. It takes more than just money to build stronger communities. It takes community leaders and those who envision a stronger community to join in with helping hands. As we move out of the chaotic crisis stage of the Pulse tragedy, we will start to see people in need of safe places to come together, evolving partnerships to help the healing continue, and clear visioning around how all the communities involved, and the survivors, can thrive.

A response to any disaster must always include immediate relief and it must always include long-term solutions. Philanthropy steps in to facilitate the tough discussions and help disconnected communities connect, talk and collaborate. This is all important work to ensure that as we heal, we heal to be stronger than before.