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Corporate Crisis Response Guide: Rapid Support Strategies for Disaster Relief

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Cori Hammoor • Director of Marketing

As a company leader, employees look to you during times of crisis. Are you prepared for when a disaster strikes?

In a world of constant change and unpredictability, the ability to respond swiftly to crises and disasters is more critical than ever. Recent events, such as the Israel-Hamas War, serve as sad reminders of the urgent need for collective action and support in the face of adversity. 

Companies, with their resources and influence, can play a vital role in alleviating the impact of such crises. 

Percent Pledge suggests the following ways to respond during a crisis, recognizing that these options may not encompass all possible avenues of response. We encourage you to take a comprehensive view of the crisis and engage in discussions with your colleagues to determine the most suitable approach for your company's unique response.

How to help with disaster relief

When a crisis unfolds, companies must act promptly, effectively, and empathetically. Here are several ways you can do just that:

(1) Ensure employees’ safety and provide support

In the unfortunate event of a crisis or disaster, the welfare of employees should be a top priority for any company. It's not just about giving aid to external communities; it's also about providing support within your organization. Here are three key steps you can take to ensure the safety and support of your employees:

Check-in on impacted employees: Reach out to employees who may be directly affected by the crisis. A simple message or call to inquire about their well-being can go a long way in showing care and concern. Here are internal crisis communication templates to help you. Identifying those who need assistance is the first step toward offering help. 

Corporate relief: For employees directly impacted by the crisis, consider providing corporate support. This can take various forms, including financial assistance, medical support, or access to counseling services. Tailor your support to individual needs.

Establish an employee support fund: To foster a sense of unity and mutual aid within your organization, create a dedicated fund that allows employees to contribute to the aid of their colleagues. This fund can serve as a way for the entire company to come together in times of need, pooling resources to help those affected by the crisis.

By taking these steps, companies not only demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being but also create a supportive and resilient organizational culture that can weather the challenges of a crisis more effectively.

(2) Donate

​​When it comes to providing financial support during a crisis, there are four primary avenues for you and your employees to make a meaningful difference:

Vet nonprofits thoroughly: When considering donations during a crisis, it's important to vet nonprofits thoroughly to ensure your support has the desired impact. While these criteria are not exhaustive, they provide valuable guidance for your evaluation. Your company may have specific goals and preferences when it comes to charitable giving, so feel free to adapt these criteria to suit your unique needs and priorities.

  • Top-tier ratings: Look for top-tier ratings from evidence-based charity evaluations, such as GuideStar, GiveWell, and Charity Navigator. These ratings reflect an organization's effectiveness, transparency, and accountability.
  • Diverse leadership: Assess whether the nonprofit has diverse leadership that is representative of the communities it serves. A range of perspectives and backgrounds can enhance the organization's ability to address complex issues.
  • Transparent financials: Ensure the nonprofit maintains transparent financials that have been reviewed by reputable organizations. 
  • Innovative approach: Seek organizations with a unique and innovative approach to solving long-standing issues. This often involves leveraging technology, new models, systems, and strategic partnerships to maximize the impact of your donation.
  • Impact transparency: Look for organizations that provide clear and consistent transparency on the positive and intended outcomes of their work. Understanding the real-world impact of your donation is crucial for making informed giving decisions.

Match donations: One of the most straightforward ways for companies to contribute is by matching employee donations to eligible and thoroughly vetted charitable organizations. This not only increases the collective impact but also encourages employees to participate actively in relief efforts.

Make a corporate grant: Beyond individual donations, companies can make direct corporate grants to established and thoroughly vetted relief organizations or set up dedicated funds to support specific relief efforts. 

Make in-kind donations: In addition to monetary contributions, companies can provide essential goods or services that are urgently required during a crisis. Whether it's medical supplies, food, clean water, or other critical resources, in-kind donations play a vital role in ensuring that the right resources reach affected communities, addressing their immediate needs. You can also encourage employees to participate in collecting resources.

Finding and thoroughly vetting effective organizations to donate to is difficult. Here at Percent Pledge, we arm our customers with effective and meaningful giving efforts to rapidly respond to crises. For the Israel-Hamas War and Ukraine War, we gave our customers our Support Israeli Communities Cause Portfolio, Support Gaza Communities Cause Portfolio, and Support Ukraine Cause Portfolio with thoughtfully vetted nonprofits that are on the frontlines making a difference.

(3) Volunteer

Volunteering is a hands-on way for your company and employees to make a significant impact during a crisis. 

We encourage companies to actively promote employee involvement in relief efforts by offering Volunteer Time Off (VTO). VTO allows employees to engage in direct aid work with the thoroughly vetted nonprofits you found above, such as veterans volunteering with organizations like Team Rubicon. VTO provides employees with the opportunity to use their professional skills and training to aid disaster-affected regions, further strengthening the connection between employees and relief efforts.

For example, for the Turkey-Syria earthquake, Percent Pledge hosted a volunteer event for our community to map buildings in the Latakia district in western Syria to support humanitarian aid organizations responding to the earthquake that struck on February 6th, 2023. 

By supporting and promoting employee volunteerism, companies not only contribute to relief efforts but also cultivate a culture of compassion and community engagement, reinforcing their commitment to making a positive impact in times of crisis.

(4) Support mental health and well-being

During times of crisis, the emotional toll on individuals can be overwhelming. Companies can demonstrate empathy and support by providing resources for mental health and well-being. Key steps include:

Encourage time for self-care: Let employees know that it's not only acceptable but encouraged to take time away to process and grieve, should they need it. This demonstrates that your company values the well-being of its employees, and it greatly contributes to the empathetic and supportive culture within your organization. Your employees will greatly appreciate this understanding approach. Here are internal crisis communication templates to help you.

Curate mental health resources: Encourage employees to access reputable mental health resources available on nonprofit websites. Guide them to articles and materials that address stress, anxiety, and emotional well-being during a crisis. Here are mental health resources for everyone.

Employee Assistance Program (EAP): Create an Employee Assistance Program so you can offer counseling and support to employees and their families. EAPs provide a confidential and accessible resource for those in need, helping them cope with the emotional challenges brought about by the crisis.

By implementing these measures, you not only provide essential support for mental health and emotional well-being but also demonstrate a commitment to open and empathetic communication during challenging times. This contributes to a culture of trust and resilience within your organization.

(5) Communicate transparently

In times of crisis, effective communication is essential. It's not just about raising awareness; it's about ensuring that information is clear and accessible, and fosters collective action.

Keep employees and stakeholders informed about your company's response to the crisis. Transparency is key to building trust. Share information about the measures your company is taking to support employees, communities, and those affected by the crisis. Provide regular updates through internal communications, and/or on social media platforms to keep everyone well-informed. Here are internal crisis communication templates to help you.

(6) Create comprehensive contingency plans 

The ability to respond rapidly to disasters requires proactive planning. Companies should craft comprehensive contingency plans that encompass all the key approaches discussed earlier. For example:

Employee safety and support: Define strategies to ensure the safety and support of your employees, including mechanisms to check on those affected and establish a fund for employee aid.

Donation strategy: Develop a clear donation strategy that incorporates thoroughly vetting nonprofits, matching employee donations, making corporate grants, and providing in-kind donations, ensuring that financial support is well-coordinated and effectively distributed. We recommend a Giving Platform.

Volunteer engagement: Encourage and facilitate employee volunteering by offering VTO and organizing group volunteer activities that allow team members to directly contribute their skills to relief efforts. We recommend a Volunteering Platform.

Mental health and well-being support: Ensure that your EAP is prepared to offer counseling and support, while also curating resources for mental health support articles.

Effective communication: Establish a crisis communication plan that includes raising awareness through various platforms, sharing informative articles, and maintaining internal and external communication channels.

By integrating these elements into a well-thought-out contingency plan, your company can respond swiftly, comprehensively, and empathetically when disaster strikes. Such planning not only ensures the safety and well-being of employees but also allows the organization to make a meaningful impact on disaster relief efforts while fostering a resilient and supportive corporate culture.

The ability of companies to respond rapidly to crises is not just a responsibility; it's an opportunity to make a real and positive impact in times of need. 

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