With the holiday season upon us, many people will be looking to find ways to not only give gifts to their loved ones and friends but to also give back to their communities and donate to worthy causes. There are many options to choose from, including large multinational NGOs as well as local nonprofits and religious organizations, and determining where to donate your time and money is a difficult decision to make. However, lessons from post-disaster recovery suggest that donating to local social entrepreneurs can be a worthy endeavor.
Just over three years ago, Hurricane Sandy devastated the coast of Maryland, New Jersey and New York. The storm caused more than $60 billion in damages and displaced an estimated 37,000 primary residences in New Jersey and over 300,000 residences in New York. While much of the media coverage of the three-year anniversary focused on the role of government assistance in recovery, there have been fewer stories that show the efforts within civil society to provide assistance. Through our research on the ground after Hurricane Sandy, we saw that local community leaders and social entrepreneurs were critical to recovery.