Key Points

Disasters create opportunities for philanthropy to rebuild equitably by prioritizing the most vulnerable community members in disaster response and addressing existing disparities and structural inequities in the recovery phase. As intermediaries between donors and local communities, community foundations are well-positioned to lead transformational disaster response.

Through its experience with Hurricane Katrina and subsequent disasters in the region, the Greater New Orleans Foundation developed a flexible disaster framework that emphasizes four broad principles — resilience, sustainability, civic participation, and equity — and specific practices in each area to guide rapid and long-term disaster response and preparedness. This article describes how the foundation is applying that framework to respond to COVID-19 and concurrent disasters in ways that mitigate immediate harms while laying the groundwork for an equitable long-term recovery.

Based on a review of organizational documents and interviews with high-level staff involved in disaster grantmaking over the past decade, the article details how the foundation inductively developed its disaster framework through experiences supporting nonprofits and community members after Hurricane Katrina and subsequent disasters. It then explains how the foundation has adapted the principles to pandemic response.

Open Access Sponsor

Support for publishing this article open access was provided by the Greater New Orleans Foundation.

Open Access