In the wake of natural disasters, it’s only natural for communities to rally together – sometimes in unprecedented ways – in an effort to rebuild. And it’s not uncommon for “ordinary” individuals to become “heroic” when they step up to help a stranger after a hurricane or flood. In times of crisis, even our simplest actions can make a significant and widespread impact.
Perhaps that’s why we hear about officials reaching out to companies – both local and national – to help out if they can after tragedy strikes. Whether you are a successful sole proprietor, own a small disadvantaged business, or run the local office of a century-old Fortune 100 entity, you have the opportunity to be a hero to the neighbors, employees, customers, and partners that your business serves.
In fact, there are many ways you can start giving back to your community after a devastating hurricane or flood, such as the ones recently experienced across our nation:
This is perhaps the most evident way to aid in the recovery. If your business is a supplier of clothing, food, medical care, etc. then donate what you can, as quickly as you can, to help those in immediate need of such essentials. If you’re a plumber, electrician, or construction contractor, consider offering your services to help restore basic utility services and repair damaged infrastructure to residents, especially those who are elderly, alone, or underprivileged. If you run a janitorial service, you may be able to offer your time and supplies to help clean up schools or shelters. If you are a retailer who sells board games, remember, parents will be grateful for anything that keeps kids occupied when the power is out or they are displaced.
It may be tempting to return to “business as usual” as quickly as possible after – especially if your customers are outside of the affected region. If possible encourage your employees to take the time needed to ensure their families, friends and neighbors are safe. As a team building exercise see if you and your team can donate time to local aid organizations...
Sometimes, people and pets just need a roof over their head to feel safe. Open your doors to employees and their families. If you have a gym, a kitchen, or better yet – bathrooms with running water – allow them to use your facilities both during and after natural disasters.
Some organizations like to set up employee-led fundraisers as a way of giving back to community partners. You may also find the easiest way to make an immediate impact is by making a monetary donation on behalf of the company to a trusted non-profit or government-backed aid organization.
If nothing else, leverage your own professional networks to enlist the help of those who have the ability to help in any of the above ways. Stay active on your company’s social networks to ensure people know where they can go for help before, during, and after a disaster. Promote efforts led by third-party organizations to collect donations or provide shelter, goods, or services.
Remember, every individual and every business has something they can contribute. You don’t have to be a large corporation to become a pillar for social or economic recovery. Businesses of all sizes have the power to become valuable community partners. Giving back anyway you can shows goodwill to those in your community. It may not always be a tangible item, and the impact of an individual contribution may appear trivial on the surface. But together, we can take small steps as “good corporate citizens” that translate into heroic actions that bolster the masses. Together, we can rebuild our neighborhoods and businesses to the benefit of all.