Heeding The Global Call For Help: Five Tips For Effective Company Disaster Relief

Natural disasters can't be predicted, but they can be planned against, and the global consumer demand for corporate action and assistance is loud and clear: 87 percent of citizens expect companies to play a role in natural disaster response. This is according to our newly released 2013 Cone Communications Disaster Relief Trend Tracker, reflecting the sentiments of more than 10,000 citizens in 10 countries, including the United States, Canada, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, China, India and Japan.

The mandate for corporate relief efforts comes as citizens around the world grow disillusioned with governments' responses to-date. Nearly seven-in-10 (69%) citizens believe corporations are better equipped than governments to effectively respond to disasters. But companies are not alone. Consumers are ready to lend both hands and hearts to the effort – more than half (54%) say they have participated in corporate disaster recovery efforts, and nine-in-10 (91%) say they have a more favorable impression of a company after learning of its support of disaster recovery.

Other key findings of the Trend Tracker include:

  • 87% of global citizens want companies to play a long-term role in relief efforts, not just immediate recovery
  • 90% thinks companies should leverage their unique assets to lend support to affected communities (such as mobile response units, in-kind donations and employee volunteers)

As the obligation for company involvement becomes especially urgent, companies need to be equipped with the tools to make fast and effective decisions. To that end, Cone has outlined a list of five tips to help companies prepare their disaster response plans:

1. Look beyond the check: Although cash donations can give disaster nonprofits a much needed monetary injection to meet urgent needs, the most effective relief efforts don't always come in the form of dollar contributions. Companies that leverage unique assets – such as products, technology or networks – can often make significant impact when it comes to recovery and restoration efforts.

2. Do your due diligence: In the age of crowdsourced donations and online giving, it's even more vital to choose nonprofit partners wisely. When initially selecting a partner, make sure the nonprofit can also make a long-term commitment to relief and rebuilding efforts and that the organization is prepared to report and communicate on the progress and impact of programs.

3. Engage your stakeholders: Company stakeholders, including employees and consumers, often want to take part in corporate relief efforts. Companies should not only provide channels for stakeholders to donate to relief efforts, but also make short- and long-term volunteer and giving opportunities available as appropriate.

4. Communicate efforts externally and appropriately – and don't forget about social: No company wants to appear exploitative during a disaster. At the same time, companies that fail to communicate may be criticized for neglecting to contribute. To ensure transparency, companies should issue brief, facts-only news releases and leverage social media as a way to disperse critical fundraising and relief information during disasters.

5. Don't give and run: Just because a disaster is no longer in the headlines, doesn't mean recovery is over. Although immediate relief needs are real and pressing, long-term rebuilding is a critical component of disaster efforts. Companies should be prepared to be involved for the long-haul, offering essential support for reconstruction.

Want more best practice information and company examples of effective disaster relief? Check out our latest edition of the “Consumer Perspectives: Turning Insights into Action” series, “When Disaster Strikes: How to Respond in the Wake of Rising Consumer Expectations” on CSRwire Talkback.


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