History

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National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) was founded over 40 years ago in response to the challenges many disaster organizations experienced following Hurricane Camille, a category 5 storm that hit the Gulf Coast in August, 1969.

Up until that time, numerous governmental, private sector and nonprofit organizations served disaster survivors independently of one another. As a result, help came to the survivors haphazardly.

Unnecessary duplication of effort often occurred, while at the same time, other needs were not met. People who wanted to volunteer to help their neighbors affected by disaster were often frustrated by the variety of organizations competing in some areas of service or the total lack of opportunities to serve other apparent urgent needs. Further, there was only limited availability to training for potential volunteers. Access to information on services available to survivors during disasters was woefully inadequate.

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Likewise, communication among voluntary disaster agencies and coordination of services was negligible. In fact, mechanisms for this were non-existent.

In 1970, seven national disaster response organizations convened for the first time to find a way to better coordinate responses and more effectively serve disaster survivors and their communities. As an outcome, National VOAD was formed as a forum for sharing knowledge and coordinating resources -- money, materials and manpower – throughout the disaster cycle: preparation, response and recovery.

Since our founding, many lessons have been learned, skills developed and best practices shared. This resulted in the establishment of a commitment to shared Values, the 4Cs — communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation — as guiding principles for how we operate and resolve conflict, as well as various Points of Consensus and other protocols for guiding the work of individual member organizations and the collective efforts of the collaborative. All National VOAD members agree to adhere to such standards of conduct and service delivery developed and approved by the membership.

By the end of the 1970’s, many other organizations joined the National VOAD Movement. As similar expectations for Federal interagency cooperation during national level disasters emerged, FEMA was formed. During the 1980’s many local affiliates of National VOAD members began forming Local, Regional and State VOAD’s. By the mid-1990’s, VOAD became a true national movement.

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Today, National VOAD is a coalition of 56 of the nation’s most reputable national organizations (faith-based, community-based and other non-profit organizations) and 56 State/Territory VOADs, which represent Local/Regional VOADs and hundreds of other member organizations throughout the country.

Recognizing that all sectors of society must work together to foster more resilient, self-reliant communities nationwide, we facilitate partnerships with federal, state and local emergency management and other governmental agencies, as well as for-profit corporations, foundations, and educational and research institutions. National VOAD is the primary point of contact for voluntary organization in the National Response Coordination Center (at FEMA headquarters), a signatory to the National Response Plan, and an Emergency Support Function partner of many other federal agencies as delineated in the National Disaster Recovery Framework.

National VOAD Members represent a powerful force of goodwill in America. They are the leaders who do the work to make our communities stronger and more resilient. In times of need they deliver hope for a more positive future. 

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