Understanding donations management is another key component to every community’s recovery effort. Responders who understand their community’s needs communicate the importance of cash donations in helping to meet those needs. Responders who know how to effectively manage donated goods are more efficient at leading their community toward recovery. Effective communicators and collaborators are more successful in fulfilling needs because they invest in relationships with other responders (including local and state government) as well as the media. Offers of donations will be at their peak immediately after a disaster and can overwhelm a recovery effort.
Some of the questions that the LTRG need to ask when dealing with donations are:
How to handle cash donations?
How to handle donated goods?
What donations are needed and how will they be used?
Where will donated goods be stored?
How will record keeping of the donations be managed?
How will distribution of donations be overseen?
What equipment will be needed to receive goods?
Will donations be shared with other partners?
What will be done with surplus or unneeded donations?
It is difficult to anticipate every need in a recovery program ahead of time. There are several phases of a disaster and each of these phases will require different donations to match the needs that arise for that period. Examples of donations that could be needed during the recovery phase would include:
Personal protection equipment
Furniture and beds
Professional construction related services (e.g. architects, structural engineers, electricians, HVAC specialists, etc.)
Donated warehouse space may be located through regional or state VOAD offices. When selecting a warehouse there are several issues to keep in mind:
Size and configuration
Operating costs including rent, insurance, and utilities
Having easy truck access to the building is important, but it is equally important that you committee have after-hour access to the building as well. Also keep in mind how many loading docks you will need., and what equipment and operators will be needed (forklift, shelving, box truck, pallet jacks, etc.) to receive and distribute donation goods. It is important to keep complete, confidential records of all clients served and goods distributed.
Visibly and graphically documenting all reception and distribution of donations is essential for maintaining good present and future relationships with donors. This can be done with cameras and written or computer records to facilitate the following:
Keeping track of inventory
Receipts for all donations
Sending thank you notes
Only accepting appropriate donations
Asking local media to appeal to the community for items needed