Pearl and Mel Shaw

[FUNdraising Good Times]

A bombing and city-wide lockdown in Boston, a chemical explosion in West, Texas; threats of flooding along the Mississippi River; the beginning of hurricane season; earthquakes; and the everyday house fire.

These are a few of the disasters we all need to prepare for. We need to prepare at home with our families, at work, at our places of worship, and at the nonprofits where we spend our time. Most emergencies come with little warning. Many are unthinkable. Some are a once in a life-time experience. Others – such as fires – occur every day. How will you get ready?

We recently talked with Dr. Jan Young, a major general in the Air National Guard (retired), and executive director of the Assisi Foundation of Greater Memphis Inc. She has witnessed recovery efforts around the globe and knows first-hand that suffering and loss of life can be reduced through preparation. She shared with us the importance of disaster preparation, “People respond with such generosity after a disaster. But we really need to invest in preparation. Emergency and disaster preparation saves lives.”

Think back on recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina, the tornadoes that devastated Joplin Missouri in 2011, and more recently Hurricane Sandy. What will you do during the first 72 hours of a disaster when the likelihood of “help” arriving is low? Will you have food and water? Do you know how to let others know you are okay? Do you have a first aid kit? As a community, how will we check on elderly and disabled people living in nursing homes, or home alone? What about the small children in pre-school programs? What will happen to people with chronic diseases who run out of medicine?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and your local Office of Emergency Management deal with these issues on the macro level. It’s up to each of us to personally prepare. Here is a short list of life saving actions:  1) Create a family communication plan; 2) Know the safe place at home, work, school, and place of worship; 3) Build an emergency/disaster response kit; 4) Learn compression-only CPR; and 5) Take Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training. You can learn specifics about how to create your family communication plan and emergency kit at

The Red Cross teaches “compression-only CPR” which is a way to save a life using only your two hands. The local Office of Emergency Management coordinates CERT training. The program includes training in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations. People with CERT training can play a critical role during emergencies when professional responders are not available.
“It won’t happen to me” is a common response. But it doesn’t have to be yours. Get Ready!

Next column: continuity plans for nonprofits.

Copyright 2013 – Mel and Pearl Shaw. 
Mel and Pearl Shaw are the authors of “Prerequisites for Fundraising Success.” They position nonprofits for fundraising success. Visit them at


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