Supriya Kumar
Research Analyst, Knowledge Services
Foundation Center
(212) 807-2575

Melanie Davis-Jones
Director, Marketing & Communications
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
(919) 523-5523

Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2018: Data to Drive Decisions

New York, NY — November 8, 2018. Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) announce the fifth edition of their annual research report, Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2018: Data to Drive Decisions.The report draws from 12 data sources, including first-time analysis of contributions by non-U.S. donors, public charities, and smaller U.S. foundations. In total, the new report documents $30 billion in private, public, corporate, and individual disaster-related giving to address major disasters and humanitarian crises that affected millions globally in 2016.
Key findings for 2016 philanthropic funding reveal:

  • Almost $200 million in funding by global foundations and public charities for disasters and humanitarian crises.
  • Natural disasters accounted for 44 percent of disaster funding.
  • Man-made accidents received 15 percent of disaster funding, with several large grants addressing the Flint, Michigan water crisis.
  • Among disaster assistance strategies, more than 40 percent of dollars were for response and relief; 17 percent went toward reconstruction and recovery—more than half of this was related to the Flint water crisis.

This year’s report also includes a first-ever five-year trends analysis of disaster-related giving by 1,000 of the largest U.S. foundations, which demonstrates that:

  • Funding tends to be episodic and dependent upon the crisis: Funding spiked in 2014 due to large grants for the Ebola outbreak, then declined over the next two years. In 2015, foundations increased funding for complex humanitarian emergencies in response to the Syrian war and the refugee crisis.
  • Natural disasters (59 percent on average) was the largest focus for disaster funders.
  • Response and relief efforts were the most funded assistance strategy across all years, averaging 47 percent of all disaster funding.

“Although this year’s report includes additional data from non-U.S. donors, smaller U.S. foundations and public charities, the giving patterns are similar to their larger counterparts in the use of gifts for natural disasters and complex humanitarian crises,” said Robert G. Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. “This is particularly relevant given what we’ve seen in the 2018 hurricane season—a seemingly briefer focus on giving even amid ever-worsening storms, signaling a greater need to support efforts at planning, preparation, and building stronger, more resilient communities.”

Ottenhoff and Foundation Center Vice President for Knowledge Services Lawrence T. McGill will discuss key findings of the report Wednesday, November 14, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET/ 1:00 pm CT during a free webinar, “Measuring the State of Philanthropy 2018.” In addition, they will demonstrate the free data dashboard and mapping platform, available at Disaster funders will also share their insights. Donors, foundations, corporations, journalists, NGOs, and government agencies are encouraged to join the discussion on how to use data to drive informed and strategic disaster-related giving worldwide.

New in 2018 will be “Tutorial Tuesdays,” a series of YouTube videos to demonstrate how to use the report’s tools to make better data-informed disaster giving decisions.

This project was made possible by a generous gift from the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, with additional funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.


About Foundation Center

Established in 1956, Foundation Center is the leading source of information about philanthropy worldwide. Through data, analysis, and training, it connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to succeed. Foundation Center maintains the most comprehensive database on U.S. and, increasingly, global grantmakers and their grants — a robust, accessible knowledge bank for the sector. It also operates research, education, and training programs designed to advance knowledge of philanthropy at every level. Thousands of people visit Foundation Center's website each day and are served in its five regional library/learning centers and its network of more than 450 funding information centers located in public libraries, community foundations, and educational institutions nationwide and around the world. For more information, please visit, call (212) 620-4230, or tweet us at @fdncenter.

About Center for Disaster Philanthropy

The Center for Disaster Philanthropy’s mission is to transform disaster giving by providing timely and thoughtful strategies to increase donors’ impact during domestic and international disasters. CDP is currently managing $24 million in six Disaster Funds on behalf of corporations, foundations, and individuals. In the face of intensifying natural disasters and worsening humanitarian crises, CDP also works to raise awareness of the urgent need to support the full lifecycle of disasters, from mitigation and preparedness to long-term recovery and resilience, particularly among vulnerable populations. For more information, visit:, call (202) 595-1026 or tweet us @funds4disaster.