Nonprofits launch effort to improve emergency preparedness

Monday, January 11, 2010; 6:23 PM

Local nonprofits announced a coordinated effort to improve emergency preparedness Monday, with online templates to help organizations plan for the unexpected.

Regional leaders, including the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington, the Center for Nonprofit Advancement, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, the United Way of the National Capital Region and many others, launched the online tool with the help of corporate partner Deloitte.

In the fall 2008, the Nonprofit Roundtable and Deloitte created a blueprint to fill gaps in readiness after finding that the region's network of nonprofit groups had no comprehensive communication system and the capacity to handle only a tiny fraction of the need for emergency services in the event of a terrorist attack.

Many nonprofits begin plans but get caught up in the day-to-day responsibilities of feeding hungry people or helping children, said Terry O'Hara Lavoie, consultant to the Nonprofit Roundtable.

Its creators hope that the online site will give leaders an easy, fairly quick means of crafting a comprehensive design that will allow them to handle a surge in need under difficult circumstances.

"These plans are good not just for the mega-disasters, but the small emergencies as well," said Chuck Bean, executive director of the Nonprofit Roundtable. The preparations will allow agencies to keep helping people even after a fire or a heavy snowstorm that cuts off power.

-- Susan Kinzie

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