Poster Paper: Organizational Capacity Building to Promote Community Resilience and Disaster Preparedness

Saturday, November 10, 2012 : 12:00 PM
Liberty A & B (Sheraton Baltimore City Center Hotel)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Pamela Joshi1, Sarah Lycan2, Brian Burke2 and Casey Tischner2, (1)Brandeis University, (2)RTI International

Background: Current federal policy mandates state and local emergency management officials to engage and work with the private sector and non-governmental organizations including nonprofit faith- and community-based organizations (FBCOs) (DHS, 2008). Engagement strategies include town hall meetings, small pockets of grant funding, technical assistance specific to disaster relief, and the development of local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT). Few formal evaluations have been conducted to determine the effectiveness of different intervention approaches, and few interventions have sought to combine disaster-specific components with strategies that might be required year round.

Objective:  In order to address the gap in the design and evaluation of capacity building efforts in disaster preparedness and resilience, the Department of Homeland Security funded the Building Resilience with Diverse Communities project. The primary goal was to design management approaches that facilitate the ability of FBCOs to contribute to the greater Miami region’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

Method: Phase one of the project included a systematic review of FBCO participation in social services and disaster relief efforts and a community assessment of FBCO capacity and barriers to participation. Based on the results of first phase, Phase Two of the project included the development and evaluation of capacity building training that is designed to be responsive to FBCO/non-profit identified capacity needs and tailored to show how good management benefits organizations in preparing for, responding to, and recovering from both disasters and providing high quality services year round.  Offered at no cost to FBCOs, the one-day capacity building training is geared towards managers, key staff members, and/or long-term volunteers.  The training program, Before Disaster Strikes: Managing for Resilience, includes sessions on:

  • Program Development
  • Fundraising  
  • Volunteer Management
  • Networking and Collaboration
  • Marketing and Communication 

The evaluation of the curriculum has two components: 1) formative evaluation focused on continuous program improvement including documentation of the training pilot and feedback from participants, and 2) pre-post tests of FBCO participants’ knowledge and intentions. There is a longitudinal follow up with participants conducted 3 to 6 months later to both assess changes in behavior that may be attributed to the training and provide limited telephone-based technical assistance.

Results: This presentation will focus on 1) how the results from the community assessment were brought into the design of the Before Disaster Strikes: Managing for Resilience training and 2) the process and quantitative evaluation results from two training workshops with FBCOs held in April and May 2012.

Implications: Building the management capacity of nonprofits may better ensure their overall survival, better ensure continuity of operations immediately after a disaster, and may contribute to an organization’s ability to participate in an official disaster response and recovery operation. This presentation will be useful to public managers and policymakers interested in building the capacity of non-profit organizations to facilitate improvement in service delivery systems and emergency preparedness efforts. Moreover, we will underscore how value-added training of FBCOs can be incorporated into larger community prevention and resilience strategies.