Disaster relief
Disaster relief and recovery

Help disaster victims on their road to recovery

Heartbreaking tragedies affect thousands of people every year, from devastating storms and earthquakes to wildfires and mudslides. Victims are often left in dire need of food, emergency shelter, clean water, electricity, and access to critical medical care. Schwab CharitableTM and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy are working together to provide our generous donors with a convenient way to extend their support.

Stay updated about disasters and how you can help.

  • Support relief efforts for the April 2024 U.S. Tornadoes

    Children looking at tornado aftermath
  • Support relief efforts in Israel and Palestine

    Picture of hands cupped together holding a lit candle
  • Support those impacted by earthquakes in Afghanistan

  • Support those affected by flooding in Libya

    Army truck plows through flooded street bearing disaster relief supplies
  • Support relief and recovery efforts in Morocco

    Photo of a rescue worker and a dog looking through rubble after an earthquake
  • Support those affected by Hurricane Idalia

    Flooded street after a hurricane with sandbags in the foreground
  • Support those affected by Hawaii wildfires

    Image of a wildfire in a tropical area with firefighters helping to put out the flames
  • Learn about relief efforts for those in Ukraine

    Silhouettes of people walking with backpacks
  • Resources to support those impacted by the Turkey & Syria earthquakes

    Image of a map showing Turkey and Syria

What can the philanthropic sector's response to past disasters teach us about our current crisis, and what can we do to prepare for the inevitable fact of other crises that may emerge?


When you choose to support a disaster relief effort, please consider these guidelines to most effectively help those in need:

  • Icon of a globe with a heart in the center

    Donate to the organization’s general disaster relief fund, so the funds can be used where they’re most helpful.

  • Icon of paper currency with a dollar symbol in the center

    Send funds instead of physical goods.

  • Icon of a hand holding an apple and repeating arrows for recurring and scheduled giving

    Help to fund prevention and continue to give over time.

  • Icon of a document with a magnifying glass to inspect it

    Encourage accountability to the organizations you choose to support.

Disasters are unpredictable and last well beyond the initial event.

Make sure your generosity has a sustained impact on those who need it most.

It is common to think of disasters—floods, tornadoes, mass shootings, and refugee crises—as discrete events with fixed beginnings and ends. However, emergency management experts generally think of disasters in "lifecycles." The Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) identifies four phases of the disaster lifecycle that happen before, during, and after a devastating event: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

Understanding what is needed in each phase can help you increase the impact of your philanthropy and maybe even prevent the next potential disaster.

Every phase needs charitable support

4 Stages of Disaster Giving
Click to enlarge

1. Mitigation

Nonprofits and government agencies can spend years trying to prepare for and mitigate the anticipated effects of an emergency. The goal of mitigation is to try to anticipate risks and minimize their physical and financial damage. Flood-proofing and insurance are two good examples. In addition, research and education initiatives can spread awareness of best practices and therefore help to anticipate and alleviate the impact of natural or man-made disasters.


2. Preparedness

Preparedness aims to increase the speed and effectiveness of the response to a disaster by, for example, stocking food and water, gathering and screening volunteers, and helping communities develop an emergency action plan. While mitigation and preparation are often overlooked by donors, they have a huge impact on vulnerable communities. For every dollar spent on disaster preparedness, at least four dollars are saved in casualties and property damage.1


3. Response

The response to a disaster is the phase most familiar to donors. They are motivated by the human need portrayed in news coverage and emotional appeals from victims and charities. Donors, nonprofits, and relief workers rush to save lives, offer humanitarian aid, and prevent further property damage. Ninety percent of all donations flow to relief efforts in the 90 days following a disaster2, but prior investments in preparedness (see above) can also make a dramatic difference in the response phase.

Your gift not only helps at the outset, but it provides sustained, long-term support throughout each stage of the disaster lifecycle.

4. Recovery

To increase your impact on disaster relief, consider a giving strategy that incorporates the entire disaster lifecycle, from prevention through long-term recovery and rebuilding. As you develop your plan, keep in mind the following recommendations:

  • Donate dollars instead of physical goods—Financial contributions, whether in the form of cash or grants from a donor-advised fund or private foundation, give relief organizations the flexibility to allocate funds where they are most needed. The best way to make sure financial resources are used effectively is to donate to a charitable organization's general disaster relief fund. Meanwhile, unsolicited goods, such as clothing and perishable foodstuffs, can redirect valuable resources towards sorting and distributing items that do not meet victims' immediate needs.3
  • Don't stop giving after 90 days are up—Consider using your donor-advised fund to distribute money to recovery efforts over an extended timeframe, either manually or by establishing a recurring grant. While financial assistance during the response phase of a disaster is important, longerterm recovery support is just as critical but receives less attention from donors. The sudden and brief influx of funds to charities while an emergency is underway sometimes leads to inefficiencies, duplication of efforts, and wasted donations. However, giving strategically and consistently to long-term recovery and rebuilding efforts can give you more control over where and how your grants are spent.
  • Support innovative mitigation and preparedness strategies—Many donors find contributing to crisis prevention efforts to be a particularly challenging task because disasters are by nature difficult to anticipate. It is therefore hardly surprising that nearly half of 2012 disaster funding by foundations was directed to response and relief efforts, while the smallest percentage was allocated to disaster preparedness4. If you struggle with how to approach disaster prevention and preparedness, it may be useful to think about these concepts in a broader context. For example:
    • Preparedness efforts do not need to be pegged to one specific disaster. Consider supporting organizations that do not directly address disaster relief, but help vulnerable populations—such as the elderly, the poor, and the mentally ill—who are often hit hardest by disasters.
    • Alternatively, explore opportunities to invest in studies and pilot programs that focus on disaster mitigation and preparation. These research initiatives increase awareness and highlight differences in disaster relief across a range of local contexts.

Learn more about defining your charitable mission and creating a giving strategy. Visit disasterphilanthropy.org for more disaster giving tips and timely research.


1. https://www.unicef.org/appeals/famine.html

2. The Center for Disaster Philantropy: We Are All Disaster Philanthropists

3. Federal Emergency Management Agency: Volunteer & Donate Responsibly

4. The Foundation Center and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy: Measuring the State of Disaster Philanthropy 2014: Data to Drive Decisions