National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) was founded over 50 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.
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 muscle – throughout the disaster cycle: preparation, response and recovery.
Today, National VOAD is a coalition of 70+ 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.