Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
What is Rebuild NorthBay Foundation?
Founded during the October 2017 North Bay fires, RBNF is a long-term recovery 501c3 nonprofit. We also have a 501c4, Rebuild NorthBay. Both entities are in good standing with the IRS and related agencies. For more information on our financial policies, independent audit, and taxes, please visit https://rebuildnorthbay.org/about-us/compliance/
At RNBF, we are committed to the long-term disaster recovery for the north bay counties of Sonoma, Napa, Lake, and Mendocino. We are determined to pay our lessons forward so no community must reinvent recovery. We offer technical assistance to other post-disaster regions, such as Paradise, and nationally, we speak at conferences about our collaborative, innovative and effective model of multi-sector leadership in long term disaster recovery.
Our volunteer board is comprised of leaders from multiple sectors: business, nonprofit, tribal, environmental, housing, technology, agriculture, health care, and education. Our goal is to ensure rebuilders, businesses, and the public sector are supported through the long-term process. Many of our board members are fire survivors or people who have family members who lost homes and businesses during the fires.
Why are we needed?
During a disaster, the focus of the world is on the immediate response, but soon after the event ends, cameras leave and donations cease at the exact moment when survivors need the most help. Recovering from a federally declared disaster is a long term process — between 7-10 years if fortunate; 20-30 years if resources are scarce.
Many are familiar with the need for short term relief for survivors, however very few are aware the needs of survivors grow with time and there are virtually no nonprofits working in long term recovery to meet that need. It can take years before a survivor can even begin to think about rebuilding. Why? Trauma often accompanies disaster and rebuilding is a very stressful, complicated process. This is a national problem and not specific to the north bay. It is critical to have a dedicated organization who will respond to the needs of fire survivors until every family is home.
How Do We Achieve Our Mission and Vision?
Our vision is to rebuild the north bay better, safer, greener, and faster. Our mission is to create a more sustainable and resilient north bay region through coordination, collaboration, and advocacy.
Our number one strategy is to ask, “What do you need and how can we help?” The answers are what guides our work plan. Coordination, Collaboration, and Strategic Partnerships comprise the bulk of our time and resources. Disaster recovery hinges on the ability to form partnerships with the public, private, and nonprofit sectors to tackle big problems. No single sector can get as much done as when we work together.
We coordinate and convene in order to fill gaps in communication, rebuilder needs, etc. For example, we held a convening in March 2018 that brought people from the Camp and Woolsey Fires to meet with leaders from our four-county region to learn about recovery. We are the fiscal sponsor for several organizations that are helping rebuild or supporting rebuilders. We support equity in recovery and resiliency as well as economic development through grant-making.
Our Advocacy Program is innovative, effective, and collaborative. We solely support the public sector requests. Our model is regional and
multi-sectored. When collaboratively support our rebuilding and recovery, we are able to secure higher level meetings with primary elected officials and departmental agency leads who can make decisions.
While it is an impactful pillar of RNBF, the amount of resources we expend is between 2-5% annually, well under the 20% allowable amount by the IRS. In our first FY 2017-18, Advocacy comprised 5% of our budget. In 2018-19, it is less than 2% and includes staff time. Our partners value our program and our model.
Do We Support Candidates?
No. Although we have a C4, the board focuses on the C3. We do not give campaign contributions nor do we endorse candidates for elected office.
How Have We Spent the Funding?
RNBF is primarily an organization focused on providing support for the long term recovery and rebuilding of our region. We do three things: Coordinate, Collaborate, Advocate. These three activities, in addition to our grants program, requires a heavy lift from dedicated staff. A nonprofit has nearly all of the same overhead as a small business: insurance, rent, technology, etc. We maximize our funds and are proud that we pay our small staff of three talented people a competitive salary with benefits.
We are the only long term disaster nonprofit solely dedicated to this work.
There are many different models for a nonprofit. Some only manage funds and do not provide direct services. Social service organizations provide direct services. Rebuild NorthBay Foundation is a new model born of necessity and an unprecedented disaster. Our disaster was so vast, our destruction so great, it was clear our recovery would require a long term organization charged with coordinating public, private and nonprofit sectors. At RNBF, we are a hub for recovery and rebuilding. We manage funds, handle project management, provide fiscal sponsorship support, advocate for maximum federal funding, and manage a grant fund. We connect people to organizations and we collaborate to get big things accomplished. We set up RNBF to be nimble, responsive, and relevant in a post-disaster region. We not only created the model, we are also paying it forward. We believe we are better together and together, we rise.
In Year One, we knew there was a critical need for a long term recovery organization. While we made one grant to Lake County after the Pawnee Fire to shore up their general fund, we raised over $1.1M separately for direct relief to fire survivors. The Hopper Ave Walls for Coffey Park and The RiseUp Project: A mile of common fencing for Mark West and Larkfield Estates saved parcel owners between $18-25K per family. Both projects provided tangible deliverables of hope and progress to the entire community.
In Year Two, we provided $725,803 in support for the rebuilding of the north bay as well as finished projects begun in Year One. We launched our RiseUp Community Impact Grants program, which is jointly funded with United Way of Wine Country and has provided over $175K in grants to unmet needs, research, and resiliency.
Opening Year Three, we are focused on grant-making, coordination, innovation, and incubation. We will continue to support the requests of our rebuilders while also responding to the emergent needs born of the public safety power shut-offs, the Kincade Fire, and building wildfire and communications resiliency.
Year Three promises to be our biggest, most impactful, and most important year yet. We are maturing as an organization and our commitment to remain responsive to the needs of our community is proven, effective, and relevant. We know that together we can recover, rebuild, and reimagine a better tomorrow.
For more information, please email us at [email protected]. Thank you for your support.