How For-Profits Can Help Non-Profits in a Disaster

“This disaster is an EXCELLENT marketing opportunity!”

You’ll never hear those words publicly from a corporation, but I guarantee you they’ve been said behind closed doors.

During my time at World Vision I helped fundraise for my fair share of natural disasters. The pace an organization is running at during a disaster makes a job at a Silicon Valley startup look like a vacation. You are simultaneously required to deal with operations, logistics, media, production and public relations. And, often getting the most up-to-date information is difficult or down right impossible.

If you are a For-Profit considering assisting with a nonprofit for a disaster such as the most recent Hurricane Harvey, you will want to consider the following before moving forward.

  1. Don’t go into this expecting anything in return. This is NOT a marketing opportunity and if your business comes off as trying to use the situation for self-promotion the PR backlash will be strong and swift. 
  2. The best thing you can do is donate money. If you are not in a specific industry that makes a product or service that can directly benefit the people affected, it will take more time and effort for the nonprofit to manage you and your staff. That’s time they need to be spending elsewhere. It IS ok to put together a matching gift campaign and go out to your customers with that message. For example, “XYZ corporation will match every donation from our customers up to $100,000.” Kudos go out to our office space provider WeWork for quickly creating a matching gift campaign for Houston flood relief!
  3. If you do make a product or service that could be beneficial, be sure to see it all the way through. For example, if your company makes medical supplies and you want to donate product, factor in the logistics to get them to the area most needed. “I want you to come pick this up” is not helpful in a disaster situation. Non-profits are sometimes fearful of saying no, so they will go out of their way to accommodate the company/donor even if it costs them valuable time and money in the long run.

Take these recommendations into consideration. Your non-profit partner will thank you in the end, and you’ll know that your efforts are having maximum impact to help those who truly need it.

Brian TuckerComment