A Guide to Planning
for California Community Foundations
The League of California Community Foundations
The authors and the members of the League of California Community Foundations wish to
thank The California Endowment for the resources that supported the development of this
guide. The authors wish to express their appreciation to Michael Groza, Vice President for
Community Outreach at the Marin Community Foundation, for his considerable assistance
LEAGUE OF CALIFORNIA
(707) 586-0277 FAX (707) 586-1606
P.O. Box 1638 Rohnert Park, CA 94927
Table of Contents
Stages of Disaster................................................................................................... 3
PART I: Community Foundation Approaches to Disaster
Community Foundations — Preparing for Disaster............................... 4
Steps to Consider ....................................................................... 4
Memorandum of Understanding and Mutual Aid .......................6
Community Foundations — Disaster Response ..................................... 6
Community Foundation Roles in
Disaster Preparedness and Response .......................................... 7
Community Foundations — Disaster Recovery ..................................... 8
Analysis and Documentation...................................................... 9
PART II: Organizations Involved in Disaster Preparedness,
Response & Recovery
Government Organizations — Roles & Responsibilities
FEMA ...................................................................................... 10
OES ......................................................................................... 11
County “Operational Areas” ................................................... 13
Local Government and Special Districts................................... 13
Community Coalitions and NPOs
Community Collaborative Group (CCG)................................. 14
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)............... 15
Red Cross ................................................................................ 15
Salvation Army ........................................................................ 15
Volunteer Centers..................................................................... 16
National Organization for Victim Assistance........................... 16
Community Based Organizations............................................. 17
Regional Association of Grantmakers...................................... 17
PART III: Appendices
Appendix A: Community Foundation Disaster Materials.................... 19
Appendix B: OES Map ....................................................................... 23
Appendix C: Regional Offices of the OES........................................... 24
Appendix D: SEMS - Standardized Emergency
Management System....................................................... 26
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 1
In 1998 The California Endowment provided over $500,000 in flood-related disaster
assistance to California community foundations through the League of California
Community Foundations. A small amount of that grant was designated for disaster
preparedness work to be conducted by the League for its members. This report was
produced as a result, and is intended to serve as a resource for California community
foundations as they work to prepare for and respond to disaster.
The goals of this report are to provide the reader with:
1. a look at the ways other community foundations have addressed disaster preparedness,
response and recovery; and recommendations they’ve made as a result of experiences
with local disaster
2. an overview of the organizations involved and the roles they play with regard to
disaster preparedness, response, and recovery in California
3. a list and summary of materials available for review (Appendix A)
It is not meant to be an exhaustive review of disaster procedure or literature, but rather a
tool to assist and inform community foundations in developing a disaster plan and
implementing the steps necessary for a prompt and smooth disaster response.
The information assembled in this report was gathered from the Council on Foundations’
archives and listservs, individual community foundations throughout the country, review of
relevant websites, interviews with League members, and numerous state, national, and
community organizations working to improve the effectiveness of local and regional
The report is organized in sections. Part I reviews community foundation involvement in
disaster preparedness, response and recovery efforts, including some steps to consider in
planning for a disaster. Part II describes the primary organizations involved with disaster
activities in California (including government, community coalitions and npo’s) and their
roles and responsibilities. Part III contains Appendices with supplemental information on
community foundation reports, publications, and materials on file in the League office, and
additional information on the State’s emergency management system. To request copies of
information listed in Appendix A, please email the League office at email@example.com.
2 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Stages of Disaster
Disaster work is often viewed in three distinct stages: preparedness, response,
This stage of planning includes the drafting of plans and forms needed in the
event of a disaster. Pre-disaster activities may include interactions with community
organizations, internal meetings, the drafting of special disaster procedures and
other activities that help to ensure that the foundation and community are
adequately prepared for a disaster.
This stage refers to events that take place directly preceding or following a
disaster, including the evacuation, shelter, feeding and caring for disaster victims.
Response efforts are controlled and directed by government officials, often with
assistance from nonprofit response organizations like the Red Cross and Salvation
Army. The response stage may last from a few days to a number of weeks.
This is the final and longest stage of a disaster. This includes both the physical
reconstruction of the community and the psychological, financial and emotional
support needed to heal a community in the wake of a disaster. These efforts may
take weeks, months or years.
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 3
Community Foundation Approaches to Disaster
Community Foundations—Preparing for Disaster
Disaster preparedness includes all of the activities that need to be carried out prior to a
disaster to ensure that disaster response activities run as smoothly as possible. This typically
means that disaster and business continuity plans are in place, understood and ready to be
used. Special paperwork needed in a disaster is approved and printed, and conversations
take place between parties needing to work together in a disaster relief scenario.
Steps to Consider
In planning for a disaster, a community foundation might consider the following:
1. Be prepared to operate away from the office for a period of at least 72 hours. This is
standard for any business.
2. Maintain copies of all computer files and important documents at a site other than the
foundation office, in case the foundation office becomes inaccessible.
3. Develop a Business Continuity Plan detailing how foundation business operations will
be carried out in the event of a variety of possible disaster scenarios.
4. Distribute staff directories with home phone and contact information for all employees.
5. Delineate a chain of command in responding to a disaster, e.g. Executive Director,
Board Chair, etc.
6. Ensure that the Executive Director and Board Chair have cellular phones to use in the
event of a disaster.
7. Establish relationships with County officials responsible for assessing the immediate
needs of each specific disaster, and learn how the community foundation can enhance
the effectiveness of the County’s coordinated response.
8. Develop a Disaster Plan outlining what actions the foundation will take in a disaster.
9. Develop a list of major donors, private foundations and others who can be relied on for
immediate and substantial support.
10. Consider giving discretionary authority to the foundation executive to make immediate
grants after a disaster.
11. Produce all special forms and make them ready for use (including approval, printing
4 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
12. Consider installing a toll-free phone number prior to a disaster, so that it can be put
into action quickly.
13. Consider shortening the grant approval process for maximum responsiveness to rapidly
changing situations in a disaster.
• Identify leading agencies and organizations that will respond to any disaster. Create
an official Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with those organizations giving
them a limit (“up to $X”) for immediate disaster relief. Such a limit is pre-approved
and invoked or activated by a phone call when needed. (See section
on“Memorandum of Understanding and Mutual Aid,” page 6.)
• Consider giving the executive director emergency powers to approve disaster relief
grants up to a certain amount.
• Create a procedure whereby an Executive Committee of the Board can meet by
phone to approve emergency grants.
• Make sure that all special processes are documented, approved, printed and ready to
14. Identify special needs groups or populations in your area that might require specific
services or care beyond general “mass care” type operations. A possible list might
• Elderly in retirement communities, nursing homes or private homes,
• Recent immigrants and immigrant communities,
• Migrant workers,
• People on medications and/or life support systems,
• Those with special dietary, toileting, dressing needs,
• Geographically isolated,
• Native Americans living on reservations,
• Residents of substance abuse programs,
• Battered women living in shelters, and
• People with physical, mental or developmental disabilities.
15. Identify local organizations that seem likely to respond to a disaster. Make contact and
open a dialog that will assist both in learning what the other is capable of, and the
assistance required to succeed. For most urban areas there are well established
organizations, such as the Red Cross and the Salvation Army that have existing disaster
plans and scores of trained volunteers who respond to emergencies and disasters.
16. Convey your plans to government officials and the agencies you serve or might serve in
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 5
17. Check with the local Regional Association of Grantmakers (RAG) to learn about
possible plans it may have to convene local funders following a disaster, in order to
examine the overall situation, share information, consider collaborative funding and
avoid duplicate funding. If the community foundation is located in an area where no
RAG exists, the community foundation may want to consider taking on the role of
18. Seek to educate the community regarding steps they can take to prepare for disaster,
who to contact for different needs when a disaster occurs, and where they can get
immediate information following a disaster.
19. Develop a webpage to serve as a centrally located community resource for disaster
preparedness, response and recovery information.
Memorandum Of Understanding and Mutual Aid
Formal agreement, in the form of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), can be made
with area and non-area agencies regarding the receipt or delivery of specific services or
supplies in the event of a disaster. The San Francisco Foundation and California
Community Foundation have a verbal agreement to provide mutual aid should one
foundation be incapacitated by a disaster. An agreement can be as simple as agreeing to
hold a meeting with specific partners, or as complex as a detailed action plan involving
logistics, transportation and financial arrangements. FEMA has MOUs with some
nonprofits to provide certain services in disasters, but it is not clear if community
foundations are eligible for this arrangement.
Community Foundations—Disaster Response
At the time of a disaster, community foundations must be prepared to provide both
psychological and financial support to the nonprofits/grantees delivering services. Immediate
outreach and communication with these organizations, to assess their damages, ascertain
their needs, provide encouragement and assurance that dollars are available to cover their
costs, allows them to respond.
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and Community Collaborative Groups
(CCGs) are two groups which seek to organize community-based organizations and area
nonprofits to plan for and respond to disasters. (Both are discussed in greater detail in Part
II). Community foundations that are members of their local VOAD or CCG will receive
direction and support by those organizations. Most often, the CCG is represented in the
Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the County/Operational Area level (see Part II for
further information). The CCG representative works with government agencies to match
needs with resources, and through this process, might call on the community foundation to
provide previously identified resources.
6 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Community Foundation Roles in Disaster Preparedness and Response
Marin Community Foundation (MCF) has been actively involved in the development of
community-based disaster planning and organizing efforts. In association with the Office of
Emergency Services, they’ve worked to create a public/private collaboration (the Marin
Interagency Disaster Coalition- MIDC), where different groups and countywide agencies
were brought together to coordinate and consolidate disaster resources and further develop
response capabilities. Each maintains its own plan and meets in what has become an
institutionalized collective. The MIDC has produced numerous educational pieces for
community distribution, including a laminated disaster resources information sheet listing
agencies to contact to give or to get various kinds of help, as well as phone numbers, radio
frequencies, and websites for reporting problems or learning about local conditions. (See
MIDC listing with Community Collaborative Groups on page 14).
The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County completed their Disaster Plan in
January 2000. The report includes an analysis of local disaster oversight and management,
and the roles of cities, local jurisdictions, and non-profits, and the identification of areas
where community foundation support will be needed. Specific agencies are recommended
for pre-approved grants for both response and recovery activities. The plan also delineates
ways in which the community foundation will encourage the community to become better
prepared for disaster. Included in their preparations are forms and procedures for Pre-
Approved Disaster Response grants and Disaster Response/Recovery Grants to cover
expenses incurred as a result of disaster.
After the Loma Prieta Earthquake The San Francisco Foundation contacted all of its
grantees to assess and provide for critical needs in order to ensure that key services would
be provided. By contacting each grantee, The San Francisco Foundation was able to provide
critical assistance and increase its grantees’ crucial emergency response capabilities
(sheltering and feeding displaced people).
Santa Barbara Foundation has an ongoing relationship with Direct Relief International, a
Santa Barbara-based disaster response organization.
The California Community Foundation has decided against a pre-determined role, instead
trying to preserve the utmost in flexibility when it comes to disaster. The foundation was
involved in funding some of the emergency expenses associated with the Northridge
earthquake, and the key to their success was the speed with which requests were handled
and the responsiveness the foundation showed.
The North Dakota Community Foundation responded to the 500-year flood disaster on the
Red River in 1997. Within 24 hours of the governor’s request that they establish a Flood
Relief Fund, the community foundation set up an 800-number to accept donations, added 8
phone lines staffed with volunteers, and established a Visa/Mastercard account to take
credit card gifts. Emergency grants from other foundations covered their extraordinary
operating expenses and the AT&T donation of 800 line charges allowed 100% of gifts to
go to the relief effort.
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 7
Area Grantmaking after the Loma Prieta Earthquake
According to Northern California Grantmakers (NCG), 907 disaster-related grants were
made during the six months following the Loma Prieta earthquake, totaling $43,966,762.
The Northern California Red Cross Earthquake Relief Fund comprised $24,850,310 of the
total. Excluding the Red Cross dollars, the grantmaking community in Northern California
provided 869 grants ($19,116,452) to nonprofit agencies and to the formal programs and
special funds established to provide direct relief. Community foundation awards included
on NCG’s list came from Community Foundation for Monterey County, The Community
Foundation of Santa Cruz County (formerly Greater Santa Cruz Community Foundation),
Community Foundation Silicon Valley (formerly Community Foundation of Santa Clara
County), East Bay Community Foundation, Marin Community Foundation, Peninsula
Community Foundation, and The San Francisco Foundation.
NCG’s report “Earthquake Bulletin, Final Report” provides a section on the lessons learned
from the Loma Prieta Earthquake. These include the widespread loss of affordable housing,
problems with FEMA’s response, npos’needs for assistance in negotiating the FEMA
reimbursement process, and Red Cross shelter issues.
Community Foundations — Disaster Recovery
Disaster Recovery is the longest stage of disaster, lasting from a period of days to many
years, depending on the scale of the disaster. The very broad range of recovery activities
might include rebuilding homes and businesses, replacing lost or damaged goods and
equipment, dealing with lost revenue for individuals, businesses and nonprofits, as well as
addressing the emotional damage that disasters create. Community foundations are
particularly well placed to have lasting impacts on this long-term process, and in the wake
of past disasters, California community foundations have spent millions of dollars to help
rebuild communities. The possible roles for community foundations in recovery are nearly
limitless, and depend on the extent of the disaster, available resources, and connections with
the community itself.
In addition to the work of repairing the community’s physical environment, there are other
long-term and often unanticipated needs. Loss of employment may create a need for
vocational services including retraining, job search and placement assistance. Members of
the community are often dislocated and need help finding housing, while others who were
living independently prior to the disaster may lose their independence with the loss of
support services on which they depend. Recovery includes rebuilding the support structure
to enable those individuals to re-establish their independence. Arts organizations that rely
on fund raising or membership drives often find a community’s disposable income is
dramatically reduced as they spend money to replace or repair what may have been lost or
damaged in a disaster, resulting in a funding crisis for many arts organizations. Crisis
8 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
centers and mental health facilities often experience a dramatic and sustained increase in
demand for services months after the disaster. The delay is often unanticipated and
frequently exceeds providers’budgetary estimates. The Community Foundation Silicon
Valley created a grants program after the Loma Prieta earthquake, designed to support
service programs that provided services during the response phase, enabling them to remain
involved in long-term recovery efforts.
Analysis and Documentation
The recovery process should include a critical examination of what went right and what
went wrong with preparedness and response efforts. The community foundation can play
an important role by encouraging those who took part in the disaster planning, response
and recovery efforts to document their experiences, identify errors, work to address any
issues that might have arisen, and learn from lessons that emerge.
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 9
Organizations Involved in
Disaster Preparedness, Response and Recovery
Government Agency Roles and Responsibilities —
From National to Local
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
500 C Street, SW Washington, D.C. 20472 Phone: (202) 646-4600
The national disaster agency is the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The
agency has a broad range of responsibilities, including helping to equip local and state
emergency preparedness; coordinating the federal response to a disaster; training emergency
managers; and making disaster assistance available to states, communities, businesses and
When a disaster situation is beyond the capabilities of local and State forces, the Governor
may request that the President declare a “major disaster” or “emergency.” The request must
satisfy the provisions of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance
Act (The Stafford Act), and in most instances, a Federal Disaster Declaration opens the
doors for millions of dollars in federal disaster recovery funds.
FEMA offers specific services to individuals and to state and local governments. As
described on FEMA’s website, these services may include:
• Disaster housing, until alternative housing is available, for disaster victims whose
homes are uninhabitable. Home repair funds may be given to owner-occupants in lieu
of other forms of disaster housing assistance, so that families can quickly return to
their damaged homes;
• Disaster unemployment assistance and job placement assistance for those unemployed
as a result of a major disaster;
• Individual and family grants to help meet disaster-related necessary expenses or
serious needs when those affected are unable to meet such expenses or needs through
other programs or other means;
• Legal services to low-income families and individuals;
• Crisis counseling and referrals to appropriate mental health agencies to relieve
disaster-caused mental health problems;
• Loans to individuals, businesses, and farmers for repair, rehabilitation, or replacement
of damaged real and personal property and some production losses not fully covered
10 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
• Agricultural assistance, including technical assistance, payments covering a major
portion of the cost to eligible farmers who perform emergency conservation actions on
farmland damaged by the disaster; and provision of federally owned feed grain for
livestock and herd preservation;
• Tax relief, including help from the Internal Revenue Service, in claiming casualty
losses resulting from the disaster, and state tax assistance;
• Waiver of penalties for early withdrawal of funds from certain time deposits, and more.
FEMA has responded to four disasters in California in recent years, including a Central
Valley freeze in 1998 where FEMA provided unemployment insurance for farm laborers,
growers and packers in Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Tulare and
Ventura Counties. In response to the floods of 1998, FEMA offered assistance to 27
California counties, including temporary housing, minor home repairs and other disaster-
related expenses, as well as low-interest loans for residential or business losses that were not
fully covered by insurance. Federal funds were made available to pay for 75% of debris
removal and disaster services for all 27 counties.
In September 1999, FEMA offered housing assistance to victims of fires in Butte, Shasta,
Tehama, Tuolumne, Plumas and San Bernardino counties. The assistance consisted of rental
and mortgage assistance for individuals, and assistance with the removal of fire debris.
More recently, FEMA provided assistance to earthquake victims in Napa County in
A variety of information on general preparedness and prevention, disaster information for
children, earthquakes, floods, fire and more are available through FEMA. The website
includes this information, as well as a link where users can create custom multi-hazard
maps by entering a zip code, city, or congressional district and selecting from a variety of
hazard types to help determine disaster risks in any community. Also available are
summaries and updates of response and recovery efforts of federally declared disasters,
including numbers of registrations for assistance received, numbers approved, dollars
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services
The following description of services was extracted from the OES website.
“The Governor's Office of Emergency Services coordinates overall state agency response to
major disasters in support of local government. The office is responsible for assuring the
state's readiness to respond to and recover from natural, manmade, and war-caused
emergencies, and for assisting local governments in their emergency preparedness, response
and recovery efforts.
During major emergencies, OES may call upon all state agencies to help provide support.
Due to their specialized capabilities and expertise, the California National Guard, Highway
Patrol, Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, Conservation Corps, Department of
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 11
Social Services, Department of Health Services and the Department of Transportation are
the agencies most often asked to respond and assist in emergency response activities.
OES may also call on its own response resources to assist local government. For example,
four communications vans are available to send to disaster sites. Portable satellite units are
available to provide voice and data transmission from remote locations. OES also maintains
caches of specialized equipment, principally for use by local law enforcement agencies. One
hundred and twenty OES fire engines ("pumpers") are stationed with fire districts at
strategic locations throughout the state and can be dispatched when needed. OES staff
members are on call 24 hours a day to respond to any state or local emergency needs.
The OES Warning Center is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. From this center,
warning controllers speak with county OESs and the National Warning Center in Berryville,
Virginia on a daily basis. OES also maintains a 24-hour toll-free toxic release hotline, and
relays spill reports to a number of other state and federal response and regulatory agencies,
as well as local governments.
OES is the “grantee” for federal disaster assistance, principally from the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA). During the recovery phase of a disaster, OES helps local
governments assess damages and assists them with federal and state grant and loan
applications to repair damaged public property. Individuals and families suffering losses
may apply for federal and state assistance through a toll-free, teleregistration phone line.
Individuals may also apply for other assistance programs administered by local and
volunteer agencies such as the American Red Cross.
OES maintains the State Emergency Plan, which outlines the organizational structure for
state management of the response to natural and manmade disasters. OES assists local
governments and other state agencies in developing their own emergency preparedness and
response plans, in accordance with the Standardized Emergency Management System and
the State Emergency Plan, for earthquakes, floods, fires, hazardous material incidents,
nuclear power plant emergencies, and dam breaks.”
The OES Earthquake Program provides specialized earthquake preparedness planning and
technical assistance to local governments, business, schools, hospitals, the public and other
groups. In addition, OES manages the state's annual public awareness campaigns to help
California residents become better prepared for emergencies.
OES coordinates various search and rescue missions and also provides search and rescue
task force training for local fire personnel, governments and volunteers. OES' training arm,
the California Specialized Training Institute in San Luis Obispo, provides training programs
for city, county, and state emergency services personnel on the latest techniques in disaster
planning, response, recovery and management.
OES is headquartered in Sacramento but has three Administrative Regions: the Coastal
Region, Inland Region, and Southern Region (see OES Map, Appendix B, and OES
Regional Offices, Appendix C). The Regions work with the counties within their
12 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
In the event of a disaster, the Regional offices work together to provide assistance and
resources where the need is greatest. Assistance ranges from flood control to mass care
(food, clothing, shelter) to debris removal and more. Requests for assistance begin at the
local level and move up as the ability to respond is exceeded at the lower level. For
example, local communities make requests to county authorities, counties make requests to
the OES regional office, which then make requests of the State. This structure encourages a
fluid and orderly process for requesting and distributing assistance.
Government response utilizes a system called the Standardized Emergency Management
System (SEMS). The adoption of SEMS means that local officials, State officials and others
trained in the system can immediately access disaster response communications, with an
understanding of the flow of information and hierarchy. For more information on SEMS,
see Appendix D.
County “Operational Areas”
Counties are a crucial link in the disaster preparedness network. According to the State
framework, the counties are “Operational Areas,” coordinating the execution of plans for
all towns, cities and special districts within their boundaries. The County is required to have
its own disaster plan and to maintain an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) that serves as
a command post and information hub in the event of a disaster.
Local Government and Special Districts
In addition to county OES disaster plans, some local jurisdictions also have emergency
response plans. Towns, cities and special districts (water, school, sewerage districts) are
required to have a disaster plan (meeting State standards and approved by the County OES)
in order to receive reimbursement for disaster relief expenses, but not all have them in
place. Plans should detail local disaster response roles and activities (often including the
roles of local nonprofits), but the lack of funding to support the effort often makes the
plans difficult to create and keep current. In the case of special districts, plans usually are
focused on the resumption or continuation of normal services.
The City of San Leandro has a plan that actively encourages nonprofits to take part in city-
run classes on disaster preparedness and requires organizations receiving city money to
participate in classes offered throughout the year. The city is actively building bridges
between the traditional players in the disaster world and interested or important players in
the third sector. The city also runs drills to test its response systems and includes CBOs in
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 13
Community Coalitions and NPOs
Community Collaborative Group (CCG)
The Loma Prieta and Northridge earthquakes and other California disasters highlighted
weaknesses in the human services infrastructure that supports people with disabilities and
other special needs. As a result, organizations serving these populations have since become
involved in preparedness, response and recovery activities to address critical needs of people
with health, language, cultural or lifestyle issues.
California’s CCGs vary in size, organizational structure and procedures but share a
commitment to addressing emergency preparedness needs of vulnerable populations, and
bring together the local service providers to do so. CCGs are involved in training and
preparedness and the development of disaster plans, as well as having an active role in
disaster response. The goal of CCGs is to ensure that area nonprofits are: prepared,
resilient, able to serve their clients, and able to reach out to the underserved. Local CCGs
have worked closely with designated OES staff so that OES plans and operations reflect the
issues and concerns of special needs populations, and CCGs often have seats in the County
Emergency Operations Centers.
To prepare for disaster, each CCG maps out the capabilities and skills of its members and calls
upon them as needed in a disaster. The structure is designed to help at-risk, over-looked, or
under-served populations. For example, if a response organization experiences communication
problems due to language barriers, the CCG will survey its members to find the help needed.
The same system would be used for individuals with special personal needs or other scenarios
for which the standard approach to disaster response might not be adequate.
California Community Collaborative Groups
• Alameda County Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD)
• Bay Area Emergency Preparedness Coalition for Seniors and People with Disabilities
• Contra Costa Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disaster (CC CARD)
• Marin InterAgency Disaster Coalition (MIDC)
• San Francisco Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD)
• San Mateo County Collaborating Agencies Responding to Disaster (CARD)
• Santa Clara County Community Agencies Disaster Relief Effort (CADRE)
• The Volunteerism Project
14 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD)
Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) serve as networking vehicles for
community based organizations working to enhance disaster preparedness and coordinated
response. Chapters are found throughout the state, with both Northern and Southern
California coordinating bodies.
VOADs support and facilitate the delivery of disaster services by their members, but
typically do not themselves deliver response and recovery services. The Southern California
VOAD is one notable exception, as one of only two VOADs that have an operational
disaster response role.
The National VOAD (NVOAD) has many national members, and the local affiliates of
those national organizations are generally members at the local levels. Members include the
American Red Cross, Church World Service, Catholic Charities USA, Lutheran Disaster
Service, The Salvation Army, Volunteers of America, and World Vision. VOAD encourages
other nonprofits to take part in meetings and planning activities, but stipulates that all
members be organizations that have active roles in disaster response.
The Red Cross is well known for its disaster response capabilities and the training and
preparation activities it has worked to perfect. The organization maintains a large pool of
volunteers trained to handle mass care (the feeding, housing and clothing of large numbers
of displaced peoples), canteening (providing hot beverages and snacks to fire fighters or
other disaster response personnel), damage assessment, family services and more. The Red
Cross works in cooperation with local governments, responding where needed.
The organization develops and makes available materials in many different languages
detailing preparations for earthquakes, floods and other disasters. There are information
packets for small and large businesses and individual households. The Red Cross maintains
equipment and gathers resources so that it can respond to an emergency or disaster of any
size, from apartment fires to major earthquake. In recent years, the Red Cross has taken
part in coordinative efforts with other local nonprofits through both VOAD and CCG.
In the wake of San Francisco’s Loma Prieta Earthquake the American Red Cross was left with
a surplus of funds that went to form the Disaster Preparedness Network, a foundation with a
five year lifespan dedicated to furthering Bay Area preparedness. These efforts led to the
development of CCGs and increased collaboration among Bay Area governments and CBOs.
The Salvation Army is well-positioned to assist with disaster response efforts. The structure,
network of facilities and equipment used in daily operations make it capable of handling
large volumes of donations (food and supplies) and in a disaster dedicates these resources to
relief efforts. The organization is also working to increase its capacity to provide food
service at shelters run by other organizations.
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 15
The Salvation Army is known primarily for its disaster relief efforts, but also does a
significant amount of work in the disaster recovery phase. This work is most often on a
one-to-one basis and includes the replacement of damaged goods and spiritual/psychological
The Salvation Army is looking for opportunities to partner with other organizations in an
effort to streamline its disaster roles and responsibilities. They also work closely with the
American Red Cross and CCG/VOAD groups.
County or regional volunteer centers specialize in coordinating the efforts of volunteers
(skilled and un-skilled) who aren’t affiliated with the Red Cross or Salvation Army.
Volunteer Centers in the San Francisco Bay Area work on ways to coordinate with each
other through The Volunteerism Project’s Bay Area Disaster Response Program (listed
among California’s Community Collaborative Groups, page 14), in which they partner with
other Bay Area CCGs in a United-Way funded regional project to prepare community based
organizations for emergency response and to address the special needs of vulnerable people.
Volunteer Centers in both Northern and Southern California generally have disaster plans
and have received training, although this varies from site to site. Volunteer Centers generally
coordinate their efforts with VOAD and CCGs where they exist.
National Organization for Victim Assistance
The National Organization for Victim Assistance is a private, non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization
of victim and witness assistance programs and practitioners, criminal justice agencies and
professionals, mental health professionals, researchers, former victims and survivors, and others
committed to the recognition and implementation of victim rights and services.
Because whole communities may suffer trauma in the aftermath of disasters or violent
crimes, and few caregivers are trained in using their skills in catastrophic situations or are
affected by a sense of shock themselves, NOVA offers assistance as consultants to the
leaders and caregivers of a community in severe distress.
NOVA will send a crisis response team to any community in crisis within twenty-four hours
of a request. The team of trained volunteer professionals from all over the country is
formed in consideration of that particular community’s demographics and the nature of the
event, typically including victim advocates, members of the clergy, and psychologists. There
are three basic tasks the team performs: help local decision-makers identify all the groups at
risk of experiencing trauma; provide training to the caregivers who are to reach out to those
groups; and lead one or more group “debriefings” to show how those private meetings can
help victims start to cope with their distress.
16 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Community Based Organizations (CBO)
The Office of Emergency Services (OES) produced a report in 1999 entitled “Meeting the
Needs of Vulnerable People in Times of Disaster: A Guide for Emergency Managers.” The
guide lays out many of the factors that make community based organizations crucial to the
long-term recovery of any community following a disaster, and encourages connections
between government agencies and CBOs. Connections between community foundations and
CBO’s are similarly advantageous.
OES’s five advantages to having CBOs in your network:
1. Community Trust—CBOs maintain daily relationships with ethnic communities and
vulnerable people. They provide a bridge for communication, service provision and
2. Service Strengths—CBOs have expertise in outreach, information referral, volunteer
management, and special services and offer the opportunity for collaborating or
contracting for specific disaster services.
3. Language and Cultural Sensitivity—CBOs can deal with the people they serve in their
own language and in a culturally appropriate manner.
4. Support on Accessibility Issues—CBOs can help make disaster services accessible (ADA-
compliant) for people in the community who are mobility impaired, deaf, blind, or
disabled in other ways.
5. Neighborhood Connections—CBOs offer community connections and local resources
that can enhance response and recovery effectiveness.
Once a disaster enters the recovery phase, CBOs are often instrumental in working with
government to get people back on their feet. Further information on CBOs and their role in
disaster recovery is provided in OES’s publication.
Regional Associations of Grantmakers
In the event of a disaster, the local Regional Association of Grantmakers could play an
important role in organizing a philanthropic response. Convening area funders after a
disaster gives local philanthropy a chance to determine what priorities have emerged and
what, if any, collective action should be taken. The benefits of coordination by and through
a RAG include information sharing, increased impact and reduced duplication of efforts.
Northern California Grantmakers responded to the Loma Prieta earthquake as an
information source for its members (hiring a writer/researcher to produce bulletins during
the first six months to keep members informed of needs, programs developed in response to
the earthquake, relief grants made, etc.), and also by providing emergency funding through
three of its pre-existing collaborative funds: the Emergency Fund Committee, which
provides cash flow loans to nonprofit human services groups; the Arts Loan Fund which
provides cash flow loans to nonprofit arts groups, and the Task Force on Homelessness.
The NCG collaborative effort was approximately $2 million.
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 17
Other associations of grantmakers, including Southern California Association for
Philanthropy, The Philanthropy Roundtable (Santa Barbara), and San Diego Grantmakers,
have expressed interest in formalizing disaster response mechanisms, but have not yet
Corporations often donate time, energy, materials and money following a disaster. Clorox is
proud of the amount of assistance it provides to the Red Cross, donating large quantities of
bleach and trash bags, two of the most requested items. Normally, corporations give to
large, well-established relief organizations.
18 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Community Foundation Disaster Materials
To request copies of information listed in Appendix A, please email the League office at
“Preparing for and Responding to Emergencies and Natural Disasters—Recommendations
for Philanthropic Foundations” by Bill Somerville
An overview of the different roles foundations can take prior to and following disaster. It
shares the opinions, experiences, and suggestions of foundations that have been involved
with disasters as well as emergency response agency personnel. Foundation readers without
disaster experience are invited to use the experience of others to assist in planning and
preparing for their own responses. The report also looks at emergencies and includes
recommendations for responding to agency emergencies, including grants funds, pooling
resources, and emergency response funds. For disasters, it includes first response
recommendations, basics of disaster response, kinds of services needed after a disaster,
examples of disaster funding, foundations as conveners prior to and following disaster,
finding ways to serve individuals, collaborating with public entities, and a section describing
what funders have said they would do differently after the next disaster.
“Crisis Funding” – Article from Counsel from the Council
Column on legal and regulatory issues facing grantmakers, written by COF Staff Attorney
Jane Nober. The article addresses different questions regarding grantmaking in response to
disaster, including explanations for domestic and international disaster relief, as well as
community foundations. The attachment, Disaster Relief and Emergency Hardship
Programs, is from the IRS’s 1999 Continuing Professional Education Manual on Exempt
Organizations, and outlines different aspects of charitable concerns following a disaster.
“Grants to Individuals by Community Foundations” by Jane Nober
This book provides guidance to community foundations as they develop and administer
grant programs to individuals. Chapter 5 explains the rules regarding awards to individuals
for disaster relief and emergency hardship, including issues related to the charitable
class/needy persons served by the fund, level of assistance, expenses which may be covered,
recordkeeping, the targeting of corporate employees, and the problem of preselection.
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 19
“Hurricane Hugo: A Review of the Research” – Report commissioned by the Community
Foundation Serving Coastal South Carolina
This report ties together information gathered in a host of other technical, self-assessment,
and academic research following the devastation of Hurricane Hugo. Although specific
to a particular region and storm, much can be learned from the assessment of the regional
response to this storm, the holes in the disaster response as seen in hindsight, and the
community needs in the aftermath of the storm. The report lists the specific problems
uncovered in the research, and makes recommendations to minimize vulnerability in
“Fund for Disaster Relief for Individuals” – Research prepared by the Community
Foundation of Greater Greenville, South Carolina
The Community Foundation of Greater Greenville prepared this report in response to a
donor inquiry. It outlines IRS guidelines and legal considerations, the process of establishing
a disaster relief fund, the application process, financial considerations, and the pros and
cons. An attachment provides the names of other community foundations with disaster
funds, and the contact information for each.
Disaster Plan – The Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County
The community foundation completed their Disaster Plan in January 2000. The report
includes an analysis of local disaster oversight and management, and the roles of cities, local
jurisdictions, and nonprofits, and the identification of areas where community foundation
support will be needed. Specific agencies are recommended for pre-approved grants for both
response and recovery activities. The plan also delineates ways in which the community
foundation will encourage the community to become better prepared for disaster. Included
in their preparations are forms and procedures for Pre-Approved Disaster Response grants
and Disaster Response/Recovery Grants to cover expenses incurred as a result of disaster.
Earthquake Bulletin, Final Report – Northern California Grantmakers
This report was the last in a series published to keep members informed about changing
needs brought on by the Loma Prieta earthquake, and programs established in response to
those needs. The bulletin summarizes the activities during the six months following the
earthquake, and includes a chronology of major events, ways grantmakers responded, key
problems encountered, and lessons learned.
“Disaster and Emergency Community Foundation Information Packet” – compiled by the
Council on Foundations
• Grant Guidelines from the Minneapolis Emergency Fund
• An article from the Chronicle of Philanthropy (“Steps that Non-Profit Organizations
20 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Can Take Before and During an Emergency,” Jan. 29, 1993) provides practical
suggestions for all nonprofits to assist with disaster preparedness and response.
• “Disaster Preparedness Planning and Disaster Assistance Networks” is a report
written by the Director and Past President of the Palm Beach County Community
Foundation, recommending 1) the development of disaster preparedness planning for
the “Community Foundation Universe”, and 2) a proposal to consider the
organization of mutual disaster assistance networks among cooperating community
foundations. Includes questions for community foundations to ask themselves prior
to a disaster, and suggestions regarding ways community foundations can be of
assistance to one another following disasters.
• A joint proposal to the Ohio Disaster Relief Fund, from the Foundation for the Tri-
State Community and the Donors Forum of Ohio.
• “The Remarkable Nonprofit Response to Disaster” - Keynote speech by Robert M.
Fisher, former Director of The San Francisco Foundation, to a national conference
presented by FEMA a year after the Loma Prieta earthquake. Speech touches on the
steps taken by The SFF following the earthquake, the distribution of funds from
Southern California donors, assistance from other foundations, fundraising
strategies, and lessons learned. Also opinions about the ability of nonprofits to
participate in organized disaster preparedness programs.
• The Trident Community Foundation’s information packet was prepared to help
community foundations think about their role during a disaster. It shares what the
Trident Community Foundation did during Hurricane Hugo, as well as the donation
and needs-assistance forms, the grants workshop outlines, and their list of grantees
with the projects funded following the disaster.
The Marin Community Foundation, in association with the Office of Emergency Services,
has worked to create a countywide disaster preparedness program. Different groups and
countywide agencies were brought together to coordinate and consolidate disaster resources
and participate in the public/private collaboration. Each maintains its own plan and meets
in what has become an institutionalized collective.
A website includes downloadable disaster preparedness flyers (everything from “How to
Strap Down Your Waterheater” to “Tips for the Elderly”), the latest weather and road
conditions, and information on school closures, as well as the history of the Vision Fire
(including photos), an interactive look at earthquakes, a real-time look at a seismograph,
and FEMA and the US Army Corps of Engineers. To explore the home page, visit
www.marin.org and click on the Safety/Emergency button.
Printed materials have been created and distributed with water bills and newspapers,
including “A Disaster Happens When You’re Not Prepared!: Your Household Guide to
Disaster Preparedness,” “Winter Storm Preparedness Guide,” “Preparing for the Year
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 21
2000… and other disasters: A Household Guide,” (in English and Spanish), and a
laminated sheet with information on who to contact to get or to give help following a
For more information contact Michael Groza at the Marin Community Foundation.
Community foundations (out-of-state) with extensive disaster experience:
• Oklahoma City (Nancy Anthony, ED)—federal building bombing
• Dade County—Hurricane Andrew
• North Dakota (Kevin Dvorak) - floods
Pittsburgh Foundation has a special purpose fund (The MacFerron Fund, $153,039,
established in 1966), for the “relief of victims of public calamities,” which supplements
funds provided by FEMA and insurance claims. The Foundation works with the Salvation
Army & Red Cross to assist victims of tornado and other major storms.
22 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
OES Administrative Regions
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 23
Ofﬁce of Emergency Services (OES) Regional Ofﬁces
COASTAL REGION (OAKLAND)
1300 Clay Street, Suite 408
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 540-3581 FAX
(510) 286-0877 TDD
INLAND REGION NORTH
2395 N. Bechelli Lane
Redding, CA 96002
(916) 224-4114 FAX
2800 Meadowview Rd.
Sacramento, CA 95832
(916) 262-2869 FAX
INLAND REGION SOUTH
2550 Mariposa Mall, Room 181
Fresno, CA 93721
(209) 445-5987 FAX
SOUTHERN REGION (LOS ALAMITOS)
11200 Lexington Drive, Bldg.283
Los Alamitos, CA 90720-5002
(562) 795-2877 FAX
Greg Renick (562) 795-2941
SOUTHERN REGION (SAN DIEGO)
1350 Front Street, Suite 2041
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 525-4943 FAX
24 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
SOUTHERN REGION (SANTA BARBARA)
117 W. Micheltorena Street, Ste D
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
(805) 568-1211 FAX
2800 Meadowview Rd.
Sacramento, CA 95832
CALIFORNIA SPECIALIZED TRAINING INSTITUTE (CSTI)
P.O. Box 8104
San Luis Obispo, CA 93403-8104
(805) 544-7103 FAX
OES PLANNING/TECH. HAZARDS
11070 White Rock Road, Suite 210
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
(916) 464-3208 FAX
OES HAZARDOUS MATERIAL
11070 White Rock Road, Suite 210
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
(916) 464-3205 FAX
DISASTER ASSISTANCE BRANCH
11030 White Rock Road
Rancho Cordova, CA 95670
(916) 464-0776 FAX
2524 Mulberry Street
Riverside, CA 92501
(909) 782-4239 FAX
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 25
Standardized Emergency Management System
SEMS is the system required by Chapter 7 of Division 2 of California’s Government Code
§8607. The standard organizational model is based on an approach called the Incident
Command System (ICS) which was developed by fire departments to give them a common
language when requesting personnel and equipment from other agencies and to give them
common tactics when responding to emergencies.
The system is designed to minimize the problem common to so many emergency response
efforts—duplication of efforts—by giving each person a structured role in the organization
and each organization its piece of the larger response. The ICS can be used by any
combination of agencies and districts in emergency response. It clearly defines the chain of
command and limits the span of control of any one individual.
SEMS is intended to be flexible and adaptable to the needs of all emergency responders in
California. SEMS requires emergency agencies to use basic principles and components of
emergency management including ICS, multi-agency or inter-agency coordination, the
operational area concept and established mutual aid systems.
By standardizing key elements of the emergency management system, SEMS is intended to:
• Facilitate the flow of information and resources within and between levels of the
• Establish emergency communication system, channels, and contacts in advance;
• Facilitate coordination among all responding agencies;
• Improve mobilization, use and tracking of resources;
• Manage priorities with limited resources.
SEMS covers towns, cities, counties, special districts and other state government agencies.
CCGs and VOAD also use SEMS.
26 ■ Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations
Elements of SEMS
Incident Command System
• Provides the foundation for SEMS.
• Originally adopted for field response to multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional
• Adopted by other disciplines such as law enforcement, emergency medical services,
public works and others (CCG, VOAD).
• Utilized management by objectives.
Mutual Aid System
• Used by cities, counties, special districts and the state to voluntarily provide services,
resources and facilities when needed.
• Uses a neighbor-helping-neighbor concept.
• Initially used by fire and law systems, expanded to include public works, medical,
hazmat and others.
• Coordinated decision-making among and between agencies.
• Facilitates priority-setting for resource allocation and response.
• Facilitates communications and information sharing.
• Government Code §8559(b) states that an “Operational Area” is an intermediate
level of the state emergency services organization, consisting of a county and all the
political subdivisions within the county area.
• Government Code §8605 states that each county is designated as an operational
area. The governing bodies of each county and of the political subdivisions in a
county may organize and structure their operational areas. An operation area may
be used by the county and the political subdivisions comprising the operational area
for the coordination of emergency activities and to serve as a link in the
communications system during a state of emergency or a local emergency.
• Operational Areas are the link between local government (including Special
Districts) and the region for purposes of managing resources and information
Disaster Preparedness: A Guide to Planning for California Community Foundations ■ 27