On March 4, 2021, Understanding Houston held its first Data Dive + Workshop with United Way of Greater Houston. These are interactive and engaging sessions with nonprofit organizations in which we talk about data! This event was the first in a three-part series of Data Dives + Workshops focused on natural disasters in Greater Houston. 

In the first Data Dive + Workshop, we provided an overview of the new partnership between Greater Houston Community Foundation and United Way of Greater Houston to seek feedback from local nonprofit organizations on what they want to see as we build disaster-ready philanthropic partnerships to improve our collective disaster preparedness and response. We also shared key findings from our new subtopic on the various disaster risks to the region and from our COVID-19 data page

Here are four takeaways from the robust and productive conversations with more than 75 Houston-area nonprofit agencies.

1. One central place for nonprofit agencies to collaborate and coordinate during a disaster.

When disaster strikes, one of the greatest challenges is communicating information in a timely and effective way. Nonprofit organizations that serve on the frontlines repeatedly cited the need for a central place to collaborate, communicate, and coordinate services and resources among each other. In particular, nonprofits want a central place to:

  • Share and communicate real-time needs
  • Provide consistent, accurate, timely messaging and updates
  • Access and find a catalogue/inventory of resources
  • Share and promote resources
  • Conduct client intakes
  • Provide referrals
  • Track clients so referrals are productive
  • Access community-level demographic, household, economic, and social vulnerability data, including maps
  • View a database of agencies by the services they provide, their strengths, populations served, and their contact information
  • Complete surveys and view real-time results

2. Coordination should consider, include, and prepare for:

  • Start with prioritizing ALICE populations
  • Providing information to special populations such as individuals with disabilities
  • In-language and multiple language resources
  • Creating opportunities for agencies to focus on working in communities of color to reach under- and un-served populations

3. Invest in agencies to build capacity before disaster strikes.

  • Invest in disaster capacity in non-crisis times, make preparedness and collective planning a real priority. 
    • Fund capacity building and make investments in technology and coordination which people typically do not want to fund
    • Establish clear channels of communication between organizations and  government agencies for coordinating resources for the community
  • Pre-identify relevant organizations, their target populations, and their strengths
  • Establish a process to capture lessons learned from previous disasters and outstanding issues to address (i.e., try to reduce future severity through personal and community resilience and public/private sector responsibility)
  • Catalog other types of local disasters  (e.g., chemical fires, explosions, etc.) in addition to the more widespread disasters

4. Gain greater clarity on COVID-19’s local impact.

As COVID-19 continues to impact our community, participants identified that they wanted to know more about its myriad impacts on different groups:

  • Impact on specific populations such as unsheltered community and different household sizes and compositions
  • Impact on family dynamics from child abuse and interpersonal violence
  • Impact on environment
  • Impact on small businesses
  • More on health impact
    • Long-term health
    • Non-covid health impact
    • Chronic health conditions
    • Effectiveness of vaccines

Next Steps

You can find a recording of the event here, a copy of the presentation here, and the Jamboard here.

How have you used the data from Understanding Houston? Share your story with us!

We hope you will join us in future sessions as we collectively work toward building a more resilient and equitable region!

Future Nonprofit Disaster Data Dives + Workshops:

  • Vulnerabilities to and Impacts of Disasters – May 4, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Register here.
  • Response to and Recovery from Disasters – June 8, 2021 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Register here.

Published by Nadia Valliani

Director, Community Philanthropy