The world continues to be plagued with not only Covid-19, but with natural disasters. California has been ravaged by wildfires, Ida has hit the US, Haiti has recently had another devastating earthquake, and storm season is in full swing for coastal states in the US.
Despite volunteers constituting for 94% of the total workforce to carry out humanitarian work and many companies having a large employee base that it can tap into, due to the uptick in Covid-19 cases in certain parts of the US, allowing employees to volunteer for disaster relief efforts is still a challenge due to a variety of health reasons. It’s best for employees who normally volunteer to stay put and have their company focus on other opportunities to give in times of disaster.
While cash is still king, there are other opportunities for companies to give back and assist with disaster relief efforts. And being strategic with your philanthropy, especially when helping communities in time of need, is the smartest use of your time and resources. It’s best to respond to natural disasters as a business challenge and look at your core strengths and business strategies to serve.
Donate Products/Services: Evaluate the types of products and services the company can offer and decide what situations you can help with. For example, Trividia Health a local company in south Florida, which manufactures diabetes glucose monitoring systems and supplies, has given hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of products to both American and International Relief Organizations. They have formed partnerships with reputable nonprofits that are able to quickly disperse well-needed diabetes supplies to those affected by a disaster.
Use Your Business Model: If your company does not have a direct product or service it can donate, the company can also look to how it does business as a way helping. UPS, for example, extends their logistics expertise and transportation assets to get products to affected areas. They do not deliver just any product but work with their disaster relief partners to identify the right items needed and deliver those to the right place at the right time.
Work with Business Partners: Discuss with your partners opportunities where collaboration can occur when disaster strikes. When the 2010 earthquake struck Chile, Microsoft Chile, with the support of its partners Entel, Olidata and Fundación Vida Rural, initiated a project to provide infrastructure to reconnect the affected areas called “Conect@ Chile.” In collaboration with the Chilean government mobile information centers were delivered to the affected regions.
Reach Out to Consumers: While you might not be able to tap into your employees to serve as volunteers, another idea is to reach to your customer base to help fundraise for a nonprofit that is working with those that have been directly impacted by the disaster. Nonprofits still need cash to operate during these difficult times and can often stretch dollars donated. Whether your company can reach out to customers through an email campaign or point of purchase, asking for a donation is a simple way to help meet the needs of those affected by a disaster. More importantly, your customer views you as a caring and compassionate company, which often times equates to brand loyalty. Be sure when it is time to donate the money, you have vetted an organization properly so it’s the best allocation of funds.
Corporate engagement during disasters has become a critical component in both domestic and international relief efforts. Companies can be strategic on how they can best meet the demands and play an important role during times of need. So plan appropriately and lead by example.