Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COAD) are collective groups of individual volunteers and organizations based within a community or geographic area. The mission of a VOAD/COAD is to enhance the community’s ability to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters.

What is a VOAD/COAD?:

A VOAD/COAD is a collaborative working group that convenes individuals, organizations and agencies for the purpose of planning, preparation, and relationship building in advance of future disasters. The VOAD/COAD does not deliver any services directly but fosters volunteers, communication, coordination, collaboration, and cooperation among governmental and local organizations to provide the most effective services to the community. Membership into a COAD (Community Organizations Active in Disaster) is not limited to individual volunteers and voluntary (non-profit) organizations. For-profit businesses and governmental agencies may hold membership, as well as have voting privileges, and hold leadership roles.

Guiding Principles:
The guiding principles of a VOAD/COAD are to bring together volunteers and organizations active in disaster assistance in order to foster cooperation and coordination in preparedness, response and recovery. The goal of a VOAD/COAD is to eliminate duplication and achieve effective resource coordination of money, materials, and manpower.

VOADs/COADs are part of a national VOAD movement which subscribes to the 4Cs – cooperation, communication, coordination, and collaboration. These guiding principles influence how VOADs/COADs operate and provide a platform to work in partnership to achieve their goals.

Below is a list of the 4 Cs and their role in the VOAD/COAD movement:
Cooperation: Work together to overcome challenges.

Recognize that no single organization has all the answers for all the challenges that arise during disasters. It is important to understand that common goals for a community can be best achieved by working or acting together with a common purpose.

Communication: Develop and maintain effective channels for sharing information.

The members and partners foster a climate of openness to promote the regular sharing of information about and between members and organizations – their capacities, accomplishments, limitations, and commitments. The members develop and maintain effective channels for sharing information, listen carefully to each other, and deal openly with concerns.

Coordination: Effectively utilize resources to help communities prepare and recover.

The individuals and organizations who join the VOAD/COAD make a commitment to work together, in a non-competitive manner, toward the goal of effective service delivery throughout the disaster cycle.

Collaboration: Identify common goals and create shared solutions.

The VOAD/COAD members actively work together to establish shared goals, achieve specific goals, and undertake specific projects throughout the disaster cycle. These goals in turn lead to strategic partnerships throughout the disaster cycle.

VOADs/COADs will include any volunteers, agency or organizations with a role to play in any phase of the disaster cycle. This includes disaster service agencies, emergency management agencies, houses of worship, and public, private, not-for-profit, or for-profit organizations with an interest in addressing the community’s mitigation, preparedness, response, or recovery needs.

VOADs/COADs are directly linked by purpose and function to a larger organization at the state level known as New Jersey Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NJVOAD). This state level VOAD is directly linked by purpose and function to the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD).

VOADs/COADs will be active in all phases of the emergency management (disaster) cycle.