Corporate Disaster Relief Programs Are Now More Important Than Ever

The recent onslaught of hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and flooding in the United States and across the globe has tested humans for their compassion, kindness, and sacrifice. While many individuals do everything within their reach to help victims of these disasters, there is an added responsibility on corporate entities to lend their support in these emergency conditions. Businesses need to have proper disaster relief programs in place to give aid to those affected by disaster and help them take steps towards recovery and rebuilding.


What Is a Disaster Relief Program?

A disaster relief program is a name given to efforts made by organizations to help the victims of certain disasters, natural or man-made. Tornadoes, earthquakes, floods, etc. are the examples of natural disasters whereas fire accidents in buildings and acts of terrorism are some examples of human-made or non-natural disasters. Whatever the nature of the disaster is, those who become victims need relief. Many different forms of effort exist; giving monetary support to the victims, providing them with food and water or sheltering them until they are able to move back into their homes. All of these efforts constitute a disaster relief program.

Companies may also choose to set up a separate fund to aid their own employees who have been affected by natural or man-made disasters. These Employee Relief Programs are becoming more standard and can be integrated into a corporate disaster relief plan, or kept as a separate initiative. 

Now, more than ever, the pressure is on the corporate world to step up and aid in relief efforts in the United States and abroad. As of September 4th, corporate donations have surpassed $157 million in response to the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. Walmart and the Walmart Foundation pledged $2 million in relief funds in addition to matching employee donations 2:1. Michael Dell, CEO of Dell Technologies, has pledged $36 million to Harvey relief efforts and is attempting to raise a total of $100 million through his foundation. Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt also made headlines with his fundraising efforts. Watt set a goal of $200,000 to raise for his Hurricane Harvey relief fund and used his social media platforms to spread the words and encourage other professional athletes, celebrities and companies to donate. Watt has raised more than $32 million so far.

A similar outpouring of relief came just a week after Harvey, following Hurricane Irma’s destruction in Florida and the Caribbean. Disney has pledged $2.5 million in aid for Florida, the Caribbean and other places hit by Irma after raising almost $16 million for Hurricane Harvey relief. Apple donated $5 million to hurricane relief efforts through the Hand in Hand drive, which will put funds towards several organizations dedicated to Harvey and Irma relief. Big companies are stepping up in a big way, and the public is taking notice and responding by supporting these corporate efforts.


Different Ways Companies Respond to Disasters

Companies offer several types of disaster relief programs. The most common way for companies to help the victims of a disaster and their communities is through monetary donations. Companies typically support one or more non-profit organizations that have the expertise and manpower to directly support the disaster victims and their communities. However, companies can also leverage their own products and services to supplement relief efforts. Here are a few examples:

  • By Offering Services

    As part of its corporate social responsibility (CSR) program, a company can help individuals by providing free services as relief. For example, a hospital can send nurses to provide aid and nursing services to an area where the population has been hit by a flood, fire hazard, storm, etc. AT&T allowed unlimited wireless calling from the US to the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan hit the island nation. Prior to the devastation of Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Airbnb gave their hosts in surrounding areas the opportunity to offer free housing to those who would be displaced by the storm. This free housing program was later extended through the end of September after the damage from the storm proved to be worse than predicted. The company launched a similar relief effort after Hurricane Sandy struck the Northeast in 2012.

  • By Offering Products

    When disaster strikes, some companies choose to respond by offering their products for free or at reduced prices. However, the companies must ensure that the disaster-struck people have a need for their products in order for this method to be effective. Following the massive power outages (3.8 million homes) caused by Hurricane Irma in Florida and the Caribbean, Hubbell Power Systems, a nationwide manufacturer of utility products, shipped nearly 620,000 lbs of their products to affected areas to help restore power.

  • By Offering the Usage of Property

    In some cases, companies will let the victims of a disaster use their property or facilities for free, which you can do in many ways but a great example comes from Tide. Tide employees have their mobile Laundromats ready for use whenever a disaster strikes. They take the mobile units to the shelters for victims and do their laundry for free—a great help for victims who have no place, resources or physical strength to do this on their own.


Benefits of Disaster Relief Programs

Having a disaster relief program in place helps not only the victims but companies as well. It shows their commitment to corporate social responsibility and lets people know of their passion for helping others. Here are some benefits of disaster relief programs:

  • Companies can help immediately rather than spending precious time planning what to do after the fact.
  • Companies can target those in need, i.e., avoid donating products that are not needed by affected people.
  • Trust can be built between companies and the public.
  • Affected people know help is arriving and are thankful to everyone who helps.
  • Employees have a direct platform they can use to make donations or volunteer, supplementing the corporate relief effort.

An effective disaster relief program can also change public opinion about a company—an example of that is Walmart’s response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The company was praised for its preparedness and effective response to the disaster and subsequently gained a lot of positive attention.

Disaster relief programs provide immediate assistance, help companies build reputable brands, reach their target audiences on an emotional level and act as a role model for other corporate entities.


Building Effective Disaster Relief Programs

Companies need a systematic approach when a disaster strikes a nation. Since help is necessary on an urgent basis, things must be done quickly and on tight deadlines. This is where using a software tool for disaster relief management is essential. Managing your inventory, taking donations from your employees, filling in requests coming from various organizations and keeping a record of everything becomes a challenge in these conditions. However, all these processes can be handled effectively and with ease using a software provider like DonationXchange.

The best thing about using software platforms for managing disaster relief programs is that it allows you to save time in a situation where time is critically important. Furthermore, the software allows companies to manage their donation-related financial records accurately despite the complexity of their disaster relief programs. The best thing is that companies can improve their image in the eyes of the public by leveraging their modern software tools. Companies can also stay competitive with others in their industry by responding to disaster in a timely and effective manner.  By using these tools, companies can respond immediately, track the impact of their giving and share this data with executives, investors, and the public.



Facilitate effective disaster relief and employee relief programs with the DonationXchange Philanthropy Platform. Request a free demo and learn more about our services.