Hurricane victims depend on CSR – How your company can help
By: Jo Trizila. CEO & President, TrizCom PR
When America experiences a disaster such as Hurricane Harvey it is easy for companies to jump onto the donation drive bandwagon without much strategy. On one hand, this is what makes America great, as Americans have always stepped up to the plate to help others. However, without a plan, opportunities can be lost.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a not a buzzword anymore, it’s a way of life for many companies. A recent paper published in the Journal of Marketing looked at why companies have CSR programs and what drives companies to act. I encourage every business to look at this report and evaluate their own CSR program outreach.
Below are some CSR disaster relief ideas that even small businesses can do to help with Hurricane Harvey. The main key is to keep it simple.
- Don’t forget about social media – the epicenter of all communication. Be smart, compassionate and think before you post. Even if you are not located anywhere near the Texas coast, you can offer a response to the disaster. If your company is interrupted and affected, use social media to announce closings, updates and information as well as your care and concern.
- Remember, cash is king during disasters and Hurricane Harvey is no different. Organizations need cash first and foremost. Ask customers to donate to the American Red Cross. Create a Point of Service (POS) and arm employees with the information needed for requests. Some larger companies such as Starbucks or Lowes.
- Get employees on board and excite and motivate them to donate. You may want to institute an employee Jeans Day/Week in exchange for a donation to a disaster relief organization.
- Put a tab on your company Facebook profile for donation requests. Facebook has made it super easy to create an American Red Cross donate button right on your Facebook page. I put the donation button on my personal page last night. Super easy.
- Consider a company matching program. For every $1 donated something with be matched. It is quite OK to establish a limit. Examples include Amazon & Whole Foods and 7-Eleven.
- Use your location as a collection drop-off for much needed donations. Caveat here: make sure that the requested donations are things that have been requested. For example, since there has been a loud cry for infant formula and diapers for the area evacuation centers, TrizCom PR is hosting an infant formula and diaper donation drive at our office building.
- Host a food drive. Last year, TrizCom client, Legacy ER & Urgent Care held a food donation drive at its locations for North Texas food banks after devastating tornadoes and collected over 1,000 cans of nonperishable food.
- Host (and promote) a blood drive for employees, customers and families to participate. http://www.carterbloodcare.org/donate-blood/.
- Organize a companywide day of service to volunteer at a local nonprofit.
- For Texas companies, consider a pet food drive to help the local shelters who are taking pets in from the Gulf Coast. Contact your local shelter and ask how you can help as a company.
- Offer an extra office for use. During Hurricane Rita, I worked at the Dallas Regional Chamber. Many evacuees from Rita and from Katrina called DFW home for months. Area businesses offered office space for displaced people – especially independent contractors. Call your local chamber of commerce and see if they have anything in place.
- If you have employees close to the affected area, offer time off to employees to help clean up.
- Think of the lesser known charities that help with disaster relief and consider formulating a donation drive to help them. However, first check out Guidestar to confirm that you are donating to a legitimate organization. (https://trust.guidestar.org/helping-in-the-wake-of-hurricane-harvey)
- Coalition for the Homeless (http://www.homelesshouston.org/)
- Texas Diaper Bank (http://www.texasdiaperbank.org/get-involved/)
- SPCA of Texas (https://spca.org/give)
- Team Rubicon ( https://teamrubiconusa.org/)
- Salvation Army (http://disaster.salvationarmyusa.org)
- Feeding Texas (https://www.feedingtexas.org/work/)
- Portlight (http://www.portlight.org/)
- Operation Blessing (https://www.ob.org/)
If anything can be learned from this, have a CSR disaster plan in place, so that when it happens you won’t be starting from ground zero.
The American Red Cross and your local government are there to help. Don’t be afraid to call an expert and ask what is needed, how you can help and the best way to activate.
TrizCom PR offers a wide range of strategic communication and public relation services including charitable giving strategies. Please don’t hesitate to call for a free consultation on how your company might implement a CSR strategy. Feel free to reach out to me directly for more information: Jo@TrizCom.com.