By: Mollye Rhea
Disaster philanthropy is gaining new importance within corporate social responsibility programs as part of a larger strategy rather than a short-term reaction. Companies recognize it is crucial to the economy to help communities rebound quickly from disasters and to directly support those employees affected.
Following last year’s series of natural disasters, many companies are evaluating how they can respond more efficiently and effectively in the event of a disaster. Increasingly, companies are defining their specific role in response to disasters based on their expertise, products, people and resources.
With the rise in frequency and scale of natural disasters, companies are reviewing their policies in advance to ensure they award grants, distribute products, and use equipment and volunteers wisely. More companies are focusing on helping communities better prepare for disaster and recovery phases.
Here are the four core elements that are essential to a corporate disaster response plan:
- Define Your Purpose
- Develop Policies And Procedures
- Choose Partners Wisely
- Be Prepared
Purpose: Make sure your disaster philanthropy plan connects with your company’s purpose and draws on your organization’s strengths. Respond to a disaster in an authentic way that reflects your company culture. Support giving in areas that matter most to your employees. Consider both employee and consumer-focused efforts as part of your response plan.
Policies and Procedures: Develop criteria for disaster philanthropy. Update decision-making processes and guidelines for both monetary and in-kind donations. Communicate clear policies and procedures both internally and externally. Designate an internal disaster response team and a command center. Create a user-friendly playbook with templates that outline the mission and contain a call to action, timeline, and easy ways people can get involved. Incorporate technology into your response plan to streamline communications and provide real-time updates.
Identifying Partners: Choose the right partners to enhance your company’s reach and impact. Leverage your current partners and identify new ones who match your corporate giving priorities. Consider nonprofit partners with recovery experience and a presence on the ground. Research potential partners to determine if their role, brand and expertise handling logistics are consistent with your vision.
Be Prepared: Once your disaster response plan is in place, share it internally and with your nonprofit partners. Request tools and resources in advance so you can respond to a disaster quickly and effectively. Conduct an annual disaster response drill, debrief and review afterwards. Have a branded online fundraising platform ready to launch as soon as a major disaster strikes. Create a hashtag that will allow for easier communication of your relief effort. Compose messaging to highlight the contributions of nonprofit partners, employees and customers.
Consumers and employees expect companies to actively participate in disaster recovery and to take the lead in product donations and volunteerism to help rebuild communities. While this may create a halo effect by being a good corporate citizen, this shouldn’t be your primary purpose. Be proactive, genuine and make sure your company is prepared to take on a leadership role.
September is National Preparedness Month and the perfect time to learn more about disaster response planning. Only 40% of companies report having a disaster response plan. Contact me to discuss ways to best position your company’s role and approach within your corporate social responsibility program.