Each phase of a disaster requires different sets of resources to be solicited, mobilized, deployed and tracked.
In the response phase life-sustaining supplies such as food, water, cleaning agents, baby products and medicines are in high demand. So are temporary infrastructure items such as generators and lots of tools.
As response transitions into recovery, large shipments of building materials like sheet rock, insulation and replacement appliances like stoves and refrigerators are in demand.
Due to the needs of moving resource around, vehicles are also required in the short and long term.
A moderately-sized disaster relief group has to manage the inflow of goods and in-kind donations after a storm. This inventory might arrive at multiple locations and need to be distributed to a wide variety of facilities, including other warehouses, informal and formal relief hubs, and relief sites located in affected communities. Tracking the movement of goods is critical in order to ensure that they get where they need to be—and, in some cases, in order to meet donor requirements or government regulations.
For many groups, the top priority immediately after a disaster takes place is fulfilling the needs of individuals and groups affected by the event. This requires identifying what the needs are, acquring the resources needed to meet those needs, deploying those resources and determining whether of not a need is fulfilled so the next set of needs can be tackled.
There are many channels through which needs information can flow, and having a way to collect and action information from each of those channels will ensure you're getting the most and best information possible.
Quite often, the most critical information that needs to be shared during disaster relief and recovery comes in the form of files such as spreadsheets and PDFs. Some of these filesshould be made available to the general public, others contain highly sensative information. that should only be accessible by specific individuals.
How do you make the right information accessible to the right people?
- By using open Data Standards.
- By using the appropriate free, and open open source software.
- By planning your user permissions to meet your needs.
During and after a disaster, relief providers need good information about where to refer victims for "human services" assistance such as homeless shelters, mental health counselling, food pantries, insurance advice and so much more. Unlike local business information, which was made readily available via the internet over a decade ago, “human service” information is much more difficult to find - even if you're a nonprofit organizastion. This is especially true in New York City, which doesn't have a nonprofit-run 211 system like most other places in the USA.
This creates a problem for relief providers who want to ensure victims get high quality information and can access critical services—and also makes it difficult for relief communites to create their own resource directories.
Disasters wreak major havoc on communities. Individual homes, shared community space, public infrastructure, civic institutions and businesses can suffer significant damage, making it difficult for people to move on.
Coordinating rebuild requires a lot of different people to work together. You need information from needs assessment to figure out what to rebuild, volunteers who are ready, willing and able to do the work, resource management to bring the right tools and materials to the right place at the right time, and of course, a lot of network coordination to ensure that some people and projects aren't falling through the cracks while others double or triple dip into available resources.
Getting things around a relief area requires regular access to vehicles. While rentals can work in the short-run, if you plan to maintain relief and recovery efforts for a longer period, it will prove far more cost effective for the network to use vehicles it actually owns—whether those are acquired via donation or purchase. Managing, coordinating and sharing community vehicles can be challenging for a relief effort.
A successful fund allocation process will be transparent and easy to navigate, and will enable those who recieve funds to use the allocation process to build their reputation and attract more resources going forward.
An unsuccessful process will be opaque and difficult to naviate, and groups will not want to broadcast that they recieved funds through the process.
You can also run into problems surrounding "donor intent" if you raise money saying it'll go to one thing and then spend it on something else. For example, if you say "all money we raise will be used for food and water" and then you spend it on plywood and sheetrock your might be violating laws governing nonprofits in your state - and the state attorney general could strip your organization of it's nonprofit status.
That's why it's very important to come up with a plan easy, describe it generally on any fundraising materials that you have (website, print materials, etc) and execute your plan faithfully.
Three types of fund allocation you might want to engage in are Emergency Funds for the immediate aftermath of the storm, Project Funds for the midterm relief effort and Community-Led Budgeting for the long term recovery.
Another popular (and highly institutional) allocation strategy is the development of an Unmet Needs Fund.