In Practice Paper
In Practice: Philanthropic Grantmaking for Disasters
Dr. William Paton looks at two decades of Hilton Foundation grantmaking for disaster relief and recovery
With a mandate from our founder to relieve the suffering of distressed and destitute people, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has placed a priority on responding to disasters.
Between 1989 and 2011, the Foundation awarded $21.6 million to support relief and recovery programs across the United States and around the world.
This includes responding to natural disasters (cyclones, earthquakes, fires, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and tsunamis) and other tragedies (the Oklahoma City bombing and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001).
Our approaches evolved during this period. While we have consistently favored grantmaking as a primary means of impact, the Foundation has explored the benefits of other means for helping people and communities in crisis—including making loans for disaster assistance and for micro-enterprise development following disaster. Our response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005 added to our experience, as we engaged on-the-ground consultants more extensively than ever to inform our grantmaking, and as we pursued new levels of partnership with other funders and agencies to promote community revitalization. In recent years, our board has approved policies that allow more timely authorization of disaster relief funds. At the same time, the Foundation is moving to deepen our work in disaster risk reduction as well as recovery efforts that extend beyond immediate relief.
We engaged Dr. William M. Paton, a respected leader in the humanitarian response arena, to apply an independent lens and help us study our work in the context of the international field of disaster response. We are sharing the results of his documentation and analysis of Hilton Foundation work and policies, as well as his recommendations for future practice, in hopes of contributing relevant knowledge that can benefit this field.
We thank Dr. Paton for this report, and we salute the NGOs, government agencies, donors, and others who make it their mission to relieve the suffering of those harmed through disaster.
Steven M. Hilton
President and CEO, The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation