In response to the devastating wildfires that occurred across Colorado during 2012, the 2012Colorado Fire Relief Fund provided $1.7 million through 81 grants to support direct servicesto individual fire victims, environmental restoration projects, community rebuilding, and replenishing supplies for volunteer fire departments. In the early days of implementing theFire Fund's work, the Allocation Board committed to documenting our process to help othercommunities learn from our work. This report summarizes how the Fire Fund approached its grantmaking and describes the process used for awarding grants across Colorado.
In addition to documenting our process, this report summarizes our most important lessonslearned and recommendations for other communities facing similar disasters, including thefollowing:
- Prioritize transparency. From the initiation of our work, the Fire Fund's Allocation Boardcommitted to being fully transparent in our work. The Fire Fund openly publicized grantpriorities, the decision-making process, and grant decisions in a timely and detailed manner. The Allocation Board also prioritized the importance of local decision-making with oversight from the statewide Allocation Board. We believe this commitment to transparency and openness built trust and confidence in the Fund's work.
- The Fire Fund Allocation Board decided early on that we could achieve the greatest impact through overseeing a community-oriented grantmaking process that would awardgrants to nonprofits and governmental entities for addressing intermediate needs. This philosophical determination was important in setting the direction of the Fire Fund and expectations for donors, victims, and affected communities from the outset.
- The Fire Fund leaders found it necessary and sometimes difficult to balance the strong desire to get funding into the affected communities in a timely manner and the need totake the time to allow potential applicants to pull together well-crafted, thoughtful projectsamidst a complex and ever-changing environment. Therefore, slightly delaying the FireFund's initial application deadline by three to four weeks could have improved the effectiveness of our work.
- Best practices in disaster grantmaking are emerging and many excellent resources nowexist on how to effectively manage such processes. Therefore, it is not necessary to"re-create the wheel," but instead to learn from others, with modifications in response tolocal needs and circumstances. We encourage other communities facing similar challengesto start with reaching out to others who have been down this road prior to proceeding ontheir own, as we found this to be highly valuable and important in building a strong, effective process in a timely manner.
- The Fire Fund's work changed over time as we saw community needs evolving and ouravailable funding growing. We recommend entering this process with a willingness to beflexible and adaptable over time and building a culture that is supportive of this approachearly on.