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How should your business respond to natural disasters?

In the wake of both hurricanes Harvey and Irma, corporate leaders may be wondering how to best assist those impacted by the storms. With the occurrence of natural disasters on the rise in the last decade, companies are beginning to take these events as opportunities to expand on the roles they play in the communities that house them. Offering aid to a community after a natural disaster showcases a company’s expanded values aside from just meeting a bottom line. It gives those outside the company a chance to see what kind of culture really exists beyond a company’s storefront and brand reputation. Companies with the ability to offer tangible resources and aid to those in need can take advantage of a tragedy and turn it into an opportunity to show a true humanitarian side of their business. It is becoming the norm for companies, both large and small, to offer any kind of aid – utilitarian or fiscal. The initial response from those wanting to offer aid often times comes directly from their pocketbooks in the form of a donation to a charity or organization. However, some businesses are specifically positioned to provide more specific help that can benefit victims of a natural disaster more than a charitable donation could. Some examples of nonmonetary donations include: AT&T has been sharing live updates of what they are doing for both victims of hurricane Harvey and hurricane Irma. Aid has been coming in the form of response teams and deploying satellite cell towers to restore service to support teams. FedEx is providing transportation support to deliver critical medical aid and supplies to hurricane Harvey and Irma victims. LuminAID is sending 2,500 lights to Irma victims and has already shipped 1,500 lights to victims of Hurricane Harvey. Airbnb is waiving service fees for unaffected hosts near damaged areas, allowing them to list their spare rooms and available homes at no charge to victims. Not all businesses are in an industry or position to lend aid to victims of a hurricane or other natural disasters; this is when cash is king. AT&T has already committed $1.4 million for hurricane relief, and other companies have stepped forward with major contributions for victims. But before you write a check, do your homework. It’s important to be aware of where you’re sending your money and how it’s going to be used to help victims of a natural disaster. Be sure to verify a rating or accreditation by organizations like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or the Better Business Bureau; be aware that smaller, more localized charities may not be covered by these. Other tips for charitable giving include doing your research, making your donation by check or transfer instead of using cash and verifying basic information about the organization you are donating to, including a physical address and phone number.

A natural disaster, like the recent hurricanes, takes time to recover but recovery can be expedited by generous donors, both corporate and individual. If giving back is a value in your household or in your business, now is the time to pitch in. It’s good PR. It’s also just good.



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