When disaster strikes, the demand for company involvement in relief efforts is astounding – with nearly 90 percent of global consumers looking to companies for help. Although there's a fine line between authenticity and exploitation, companies have the opportunity to make a real and lasting impact in the lives of countless individuals. Some companies have a proven legacy of providing needed assistance in times of disaster, others are just beginning to understand how their assets could be used to help. Here, we've rounded up a handful of innovative corporate disaster relief efforts:
The Campaign: Dawn Saves Wildlife
Why it Matters: The Dawn Saves Wildlife campaign is one of the longest-running disaster relief efforts and also one of the most recognized. From the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill to the 2010 BP oil spill, Dawn's standing pledge to help wildlife rescue efforts sprouted from the discovery that Dawn soap was unmatched at removing oil from animal feathers. Dawn has even expanded the effort to the "Dawn Everyday Wildlife Champions" campaign, showing that saving wildlife is a full-time job, not only in times of disaster.
The Campaign: Tide Loads of Hope
Why it Matters: In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, executives at P&G asked themselves what they could do to help; their answer was Tide Loads of Hope. Eight years later the program is still going strong, crossing the U.S. (and beyond) providing free laundry services to communities without electricity or access to clean water. The program solves for a very basic need but one that can have a profound impact, bringing one small aspect of normalcy during a time of chaos.
The Campaign: Anheuser-Busch Repurposes Packaging Plants
Why it Matters: Budweiser cans have been on the disaster scene since 1988 but not in the way you might expect. Budweiser harnesses its already existing assets – its manufacturing facilities and distribution systems – to can and ship safe and clean drinking water to communities affected by disasters. In 2005 alone, the company provided 9.4 million cans of water to relief efforts on the Gulf Coast after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But Budweiser's involvement extends beyond immediate needs – Anheuser Busch is a founding sponsor of the American Red Cross Ready Rating Program to help businesses, schools and other organizations prepare for disasters before they hit.
The Campaigns: The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal Take Down Pay Walls, Twitter Donates Tweets
Why They Matter: Even before Hurricane Sandy made landfall, major traditional and social media outlets were adapting to dispense necessary information. Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal opted to suspend online subscription fees before, during and after the disaster so all visitors could access content across the sites. Twitter offered free promoted tweets to the Red Cross, FEMA, the New York City mayor's office and the Maryland Emergency Management Agency so these organizations could easily dispense information. The social media platform also explained how users could continue to get crucial tweets by SMS texts even if power or Internet failed. All three organizations leveraged existing assets to make sure communities were up-to-date and informed as the storm moved in.
What corporate efforts do you think have made a positive impact during times of disaster? Let us know on Twitter using #ConeCSR.