Community Foundations Prepare to Help with Hurricane Dorian Relief

The South Carolina National Guard helps with preparations for Hurricane Dorian in Bluffton, SC.  Photo Credit: Sgt. Gary Ballier, South Carolina Air National Guard

The South Carolina National Guard helps with preparations for Hurricane Dorian in Bluffton, SC.

Photo Credit: Sgt. Gary Ballier, South Carolina Air National Guard

By Amanda Palleschi

As Hurricane Dorian approaches the East Coast, community foundations throughout the southeast have activated disaster relief funds to help those affected by the storm.

Community foundations in the region have a long history of raising money and providing support in the wake of hurricanes and tropical storms. As a result, many organizations are reactivating existing funds in anticipation of Dorian.

The Community Foundation of Northeast Florida — along with other philanthropic, nonprofit and city leaders in the region— reactivated its Florida’s First Coast Relief Fund.

The fund was created after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and was also used after 2017’s Hurricane Irma. The foundation said it is waiting to see what will be needed, but donors who want to help can learn more here.

Another Florida foundation, the Collier County Community Foundation in Naples, established a Hurricane Dorian Disaster Relief Fund. The fund is already accepting donations to support efforts in the Bahamas, where Dorian wreaked havoc, killing at least 20, during Labor Day weekend.

The foundation said it is monitoring the storm to determine whether it will need to expand the fund to support other locations in its path. Donate here.

Also in Florida, The Community Foundation of Sarasota County has opened its disaster relief fund and will partner with other community foundations in the state and across the southeastern U.S. Donations will help provide food, clothing, shelter, medical treatments and other support to the areas in greatest need due to Dorian -- regardless of whether those areas are in the state or not. Donors can also recommend grants to other organizations through the foundation’s online giving portal.

In North Carolina, where many communities are still reeling from Hurricane Florence less than 12 months ago, the North Carolina Community Foundation’s Disaster Relief Fund is accepting donations in anticipation of Dorian’s arrival. The fund was established to address more long-term recovery and resilience efforts after natural disasters. According to chief executive Jennifer Tolle Whiteside, the foundation considers many factors in activating the fund: the disaster’s impact, severity, unmet need, and availability of adequate resources.

In South Carolina, the Central Carolina Community Foundation is accepting donations through its One SC Fund. The fund provides grants to nonprofits to fund relief, recovery, and/or rebuilding assistance programs from state-declared emergencies. The fund has been recognized by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

Many of these community foundations are marshaling funds for the Bahamas relief efforts. The Community Foundation of Palm Beach and Martin Counties Bahamas Disaster Relief Fund will match the first $100,000 donated to the fund.

The Community Foundation of Broward is currently managing the Mission Resolve Bahamas Relief Fund — a group of Broward local air, sea and land businesses that have come together, dedicated to long-term restoration relief efforts after Dorian. Mission Resolve does not yet have an official 501c3 designation and therefore cannot accept charitable donations, so the community foundation is stepping in. The foundation’s Kirk Englehardt explains that everything raised by Mission Resolve Bahamas Relief Fund will be managed by the foundation until they receive the 501c3 designation, then they will transfer the dollars to them so they can make grants for their relief mission.

“It’s an excellent example of how a Community Foundation can step in and quickly solve a problem, when there’s nobody else as qualified as we are to help,” Englehardt says. “It builds goodwill, but more importantly – it will wind up saving lives.”

We will be updating this post to reflect newly activated grantmaking efforts from community foundations as the storm progresses.

Amanda Palleschi