National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster
National VOAD is the forum in the U.S. where organizations share knowledge and
resources throughout the disaster cycle – preparation, response and recovery - to
support and assist disaster survivors and communities that are vulnerable to disaster.
National VOAD is an organization acknowledged as the leader in the nation when it
comes to integrating the efforts of non-profit voluntary agencies for the purpose of
enhancing their services to disaster survivors. This is accomplished through the
National Members as well as local and state VOAD affiliates. The mission is
realized through the creation of trust, knowledge, shared information, standards,
plans, and forums.
Since its founding, National VOAD’s vision has been one that seeks to maximize the
effectiveness of the voluntary agencies as they work together toward their common
goal of bringing help to disaster impacted communities across the country. Critical
to this success is how well we embrace and bring focus to what has traditionally
become known as the “4 C’s”:
This vision will be achieved by focusing the resources of the National VOAD
organization and the collective resources of local, state and national members on an
agreed upon and limited set of priority program areas, discussed below.
National VOAD must consider the changing environment that we find ourselves in to
create continued relevance and value to our constituents. Demands for better
coordination among agencies has increased from donors, government, watchdog
agencies and other oversight groups. As is usual following major events such as the
hurricanes of 2005 and most recently the hurricanes of 2008, the need and
opportunity for increased coordination is clearly visible and is a lesson that needs to
be learned nationwide. Other environmental conditions are also impacting our
organization and will influence our future direction, such as:
Government Involvement – from the vastly increased number of Voluntary
Agency Liaisons at FEMA to the inclusion of non profit agencies in state plans,
every level of government has a renewed sense of the role played by the non
profit sector and the need for more formal relationships. This carries with it a
challenge and an opportunity as such recognition also demands more
accountability and in some cases, increased levels of control or direction.
Increased accountability and standards of service – not just among non
profit organizations, but throughout the emergency management community
there are very high standards for service delivery, increased scrutiny and
Integrated and detailed planning – we are moving from very general plans
at the local, state and federal level to increasingly detailed plans that identify
not just roles, but also service capacity. This new focus will strive to create
new levels of detail and the accompanying accountability.
The economy – the economy has also had an impact on the actions of non
profit organizations who feel called to serve in an environment of reduced
public support due to the recession. This dearth of agency resources has
resulted in a greater dependency on government and consequently higher
levels of interaction as a result of shared resources.
Number of responding agencies - the final environmental change is simply
the sheer number of agencies with transformed missions to include disaster
relief, as well as the emergent agencies that have come into being in recent
years. There is also an apparent rise in international organizations desiring a
domestic role. This poses a significant challenge for existing organizations to
more closely coordinate, and establish standards and processes that can be
used to channel the efforts of agencies into productive relief.
National VOAD Constituents
By definition, National VOAD exists to serve or at least coordinate with a variety of
National Membership – nonprofit organizations that respond to disasters as
part of their overall mission and meet the membership criteria.
State and Territorial VOAD Membership – membership organizations made
of nonprofit organizations that respond to disasters within the state or territory.
Government Partnerships - governmental agencies that bring resources to
advance the VOAD movement and demonstrate a commitment to support the
VOAD mission. Examples of these partnerships are:
Federal Emergency Management Agency
State Offices of Emergency Management
State Offices of Volunteerism
Private Partnerships - private Sector entities that bring resources to the
VOAD movement, demonstrate a commitment to support the VOAD mission,
and agree to provide an annual financial contribution.
National VOAD Strategic Relationships:
Educational Institutions with Disaster Programs
Civic Groups active in disaster or volunteerism
Corporations with a specific mission to support disaster response or
Faith Based Organizations active in disaster response
Priority Program Areas
The following set of program areas will be the priority for National VOAD for the
foreseeable future (2009-2014) and will be shared with state and local VOAD’s to
guide their activities. The establishment and success of these program areas will be
used to determine such things as budget, staff structure, committee structure and
goals, as well as being used to articulate our efforts to donors and government. It will
be the responsibility of the Executive Director to establish the tactics and measures
of success for these program elements.
1. Creating Forums for Collaboration - National VOAD will establish forums
for the sharing of information among agencies, the identification of common
issues, and the encouragement of collaboration. These forums will include not
only meetings and conferences, but increasingly, the use of technology to
support not only the national members, but State and local VOAD’s as well.
Such technology may include a variety of neighborhoods, calendars, libraries
and other emerging technologies to support collaborative ventures.
Suggested metrics: Satisfaction of members and State VOAD’s; broad based
support for the forums that are provided.
2. Advocacy and Coordination with Government - National VOAD will strive
to articulate the role and capabilities of the non-profit voluntary sector to
federal, state and local government. Both direct representation as well as
involvement of relevant agencies in government sponsored meetings and
issue discussions will be supported. Efforts will be made to better quantify the
contribution of the private sector in terms of services, dollars and impact.
Suggested metrics: Establishment of consistent, timely and complete
reporting, including agency agreement on units of measure.
3. Creating Standards, Terminology and Training Opportunities - National
VOAD will sponsor and support committees to complete work on service
delivery standards/guidelines including agreed upon terminology among
agencies. A process of endorsement of agencies, and public communication
will also be established. Goals will be established for interagency training and
processes for collaborative efforts such as feeding, case management etc.
Suggested metrics: The amount of active involvement in committee work by
member organizations; member adoption of proposed standards; adherence
to standards in the field; members availing themselves of training
4. Endorsement and credentialing of agencies - National VOAD will continue
to establish criteria for membership, review agency involvement in disaster
work, and otherwise support the notion that member agencies are credible
within the domain of disaster response. National VOAD will advocate and
work toward the concept that membership can be viewed by government,
donors and other constituencies as indicative of competent, consistent and
trust worthy providers of humanitarian assistance.
Suggested metrics: Satisfaction of members.
5. Creating Tools to Support Day to Day Operations - National VOAD will
support agency response to disaster by establishing a comprehensive system
of information sharing among agencies and government. National VOAD will
increase the use of technology and internet based information systems, as
well as reporting to provide agencies with a common operating picture of
impact, needs, service delivery and gaps. Such comprehensive information
will allow agencies to coordinate more effectively without the need for a
Suggested metrics: Support and use of the systems; satisfaction of
members; government feedback.
6. Provide Tools and Assistance for Capacity Building – National VOAD will
support local, regional, state, and territory VOAD’s as well as all voluntary
organizations who are active in disaster through mentorship, organizational
development, and knowledge transfer. National VOAD will provide a path for
coordination and partnership even for those organizations that are not yet
members, for the purposes of more effective service delivery to the disaster
Suggested metric: Establishment of effective tools and practices for VOAD’s;
Guidelines and principles for all voluntary agencies.
Roles and Boundaries – National VOAD and Member Agencies
It is clear that National VOAD is unlikely to be in a position to establish staff and
structures, and the associated budget, large enough for active involvement in the
myriad opportunities for serving its constituencies. Nor, would this necessarily be
desirable. The initiatives and goals of National VOAD need to be accomplished in
combination with support from member agencies in terms of money, time, expertise
and vision. Collaboration and investment in coordinating these efforts can be
relegated to the small staff of National VOAD.
The staff of National VOAD must serve to foster and motivate the member agencies
to work together toward common purposes and concrete goals designed to serve
those impacted by disaster. This raises the question of how to define the role and
responsibilities of National VOAD as an organization, versus the member agencies
which comprise the largest element of a membership organization.
Some of the major issues involved in defining these roles are:
1. Fundraising – clearly the member agencies do not want to compete with
National VOAD for grants or other sources of funding. This leads toward the
need for a “membership dues” structure, which consequently leads to a
natural tension as the goals of National VOAD become more ambitious and
require additional resources.
Sources of revenue generation for National VOAD need to include:
Increased dues relevant to the activities noted above (steps have been
taken in 2009 to address this need)
Unilateral fundraising (non-competing)
Select Government funding
Possible member grants for specific purposes
Joint fundraising in conjunction with members where National VOAD’s
normal role adds value to the stated outcomes.
2. Image and Publicity - Every agency must promote its own story and value.
National VOAD will also work, however, to increase the visibility of all
members, but especially those agencies with low profiles in the public
consciousness, and limited ability for self promotion. Also, National VOAD
can speak with objectivity and provide a third party opinion when questions
arise regarding members. Member agencies should highlight National VOAD
where possible and seek to communicate the value of National VOAD in
promoting the performance of the disaster relief system. Where possible,
member agency logos should appear with the National VOAD on letterhead
and other formal communications.
3. Collaborative Action – Agencies may from time to time, decide to pursue
joint objectives and collaborative projects. As an agency that promotes
collaborative action, National VOAD will not discourage such actions, but may
refrain from endorsement. Member agencies should not attempt to create
competing agencies to National VOAD however and should promote National
VOAD at the local, state and national level as the general forum for
The chart below illustrates examples of the Priority Program Areas (discussed
above) and the relative roles that will be required for success.
Program National VOAD Members
1 Create and manage Forums Active Participation & Sharing
2 Report combined operational Provide needed information and
2 Represent sector to government - Maintain own relations; respond
Triage invitations to correct agency when requests from government
3 Interface with National Standards Carry out joint projects; participate
Organizations; Raise Issues and in committee work aimed at creating
gain consensus standards, training, and other
outcomes; Adhere to adopted
4 Communicate everyone’s story - Consistently Deliver Quality
Promote agencies, rather than Disaster Related Services; also, tell
National VOAD own story
5 Develop necessary systems for Provide resources where possible;
improved communication and utilize systems that are
1-6 Raise funds with members, and Pay dues, participate with joint
utilize dues appropriately with fundraising that does not conflict
transparency. with agency
Implementing the Strategy
The strategy and vision represent the overarching principles and purpose of National
VOAD. In order to monitor progress, this document will be visited by the Board of
Directors yearly and adjusted as needed. Every 3-5 years it is expected that the
Board will undertake a thorough revision in order to ensure the organization’s
continued relevancy. Any changes of substance will be brought to the full
membership for adoption. The Strategy will always be made available to the public
on National VOAD’s website.
From this, the Executive Director and National VOAD staff will develop the National
VOAD Annual Goals and Objectives, a practical tool used to implement the strategy
and guide the day to day work of the national office. Progress achieved in the prior
year and plans for the new year will be presented to the full membership for
information purposes annually