How DisasterRecovery360 is Revolutionizing Relief Efforts

By Lindsay Jones
August 21, 2015
New Orleans neighborhood after Katrina

Editor’s Note: Good360’s disaster recovery platform is playing a major role in relief efforts for those affected by the water crisis in Flint, Michigan. Read more here and learn how you can help at good360.org/flint.

As a director at Good360 – a nonpartisan nonprofit working to connect companies that have products with nonprofits that need them – getting out of bed in the morning is never a difficult task. In 2014 alone, we distributed 4 million diapers, 10,000 mattresses and 8,000 cartons of clothing, shoes and accessories to hundreds of thousands of people via our network of more than 40,000 nonprofits in communities across the U.S.

Our work is about making a difference in the lives of people in need. In doing so, Good360 has provided relief in response to nearly every natural disaster since the turn of the century – Hurricane Katrina included. It’s truly amazing to see how far we’ve come as a nation in building disaster preparedness and resiliency, but there’s always room for improvement. In fact, our eyes were opened to the mountain of opportunity that still exists when we learned the following disaster-related philanthropy stats:

  • A lack of coordinated communication creates chaos, resulting in 60% of donated goods ending up in landfills.
  • The wrong goods are often sent at the wrong time, preventing critical supplies from reaching the people who need them.
  • Because 80% of all donations occur within the first six weeks after a disaster, a lack of sustained giving impedes and delays recovery of communities.

After we let those numbing statistics sink in a bit, we asked ourselves a question. What if technology existed to allow our network of nonprofits – which range from food banks and after-school programs to advocacy groups and veterans organizations – to use a mobile app to communicate the specific needs of the communities they serve in real time in the days, months and years following a natural or man-made disaster?

A few short years ago, that question represented an idea. But through continuous research, trial and error – and financial support from organizations like Walmart and the UPS Foundation – we’ve turned that idea into reality. With DisasterRecovery360, we’ve developed a new technology platform to help ensure the right donated goods get to the right people at the right time until the affected communities are fully recovered. The online platform: 

  • Provides nonprofits working at the site of a disaster with access to a free DisasterRecovery360 mobile app, enabling them to immediately begin identifying their product needs
  • Publishes those needs to the DisasterRecovery360 platform so companies can learn quickly how they can help disaster relief efforts
  • Updates companies as needs change over time
  • Shares stories about how donations are used and how they’re helping
  • Enables Good360 to store, stage and deliver critically needed goods to the right place at the right time through its network of logistics, warehousing and distribution partners

In addition to communicating real-time needs to companies, the tool also aims to help minimize unsolicited donations by connecting individuals with nonprofit organizations in their own communities that have specific needs.

Our excitement is through the roof because this platform has the potential to revolutionize disaster philanthropy in the U.S. – and eventually, around the world. But, just because the tool exists doesn't mean the problem will be solved overnight. On Aug. 21, we’ll be demonstrating DisasterRecovery360 in New Orleans, and following with trainings in Miami, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Wichita, Kan. We’ll remain relentless in our efforts to market and train organizations across the country on the tool, because ensuring the right products end up in the right places expedites the recovery of communities.

And that’s something we can all rally around.