Product donations from corporations and corporate foundations are extremely valuable, especially when they are received by impacted populations when the need is greatest. These life-saving items consist of food, water, shelter, clothing, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals. Critical donations from corporations also consist of in-kind services and include transportation, logistics coordination, healthcare delivery and training. These products and services are essential and can close the gaps in meeting immediate relief and long-term needs not met by FEMAFederal Emergency Management Agency, HUDFederal Office of Housing and Urban Development, and other philanthropic support.

Disaster recovery is about bringing a community back to life and it makes sense that corporations have a vital and unique role to play in helping communities return to a state of safety, normalcy and ultimately resiliency.

Innovative Practices

As the frequency and intensity of natural disasters and wide-scale emergencies increases, and as government resources are stretched thin, communities are turning more and more to corporations to assist in immediate relief and long-term recovery efforts. Corporations possess high skilled talent, innovative resources, and cutting-edge technology that can help prepare their community to be more resilient and also save a community from a downward spiral post-disaster.

Important actions and strategies corporations have implemented include:

  • Donations of goods and services that are in alignment with the company’s mission;
    • Food and clean drinking water
    • Medicine and medical supplies
    • Clothing
    • Logistics coordination and tracking
    • Telecommunications
    • Electric and Gas power
    • Fuel for machinery
  • Focus on restoring power, safety, communications, and transportation for first-responders and emergency management and relief personnel first; this enables those critical workers to assist the community at-large;
  • Create initiatives that allow employees to put their best skills to use before, during and after a disaster;
  • Establish and manage employee-giving campaigns;
  • Establish and manage employee-volunteer programs;
  • Offer training and workshops to small business and nonprofit community on disaster preparedness, business continuity planning, and disaster response and recovery.
Johnson & Johnson (J&JHygieneBags2)

In April 2014, when tornadoes struck Mayflower, Arkansas, Johnson & Johnson partnered with Heart to Heart International to distribute hygiene packs. Typically distributed within 24 hours post-disaster, the packs contain essential products including shampoo, lotion, Tylenol, toothbrush, toothpaste and sunscreen donated by Johnson & Johnson companies. The hygiene pack is one component of the larger Johnson & Johnson Corporate Contributions Disaster Relief program. Credit: Heart to Heart International

Key Takeaways

  1. Get engaged with disaster preparedness and response by providing the goods, services and/or skills that your organization is known for. Integrate your disaster response program with your company’s mission and values.
  1. Healthy businesses depend upon healthy and safe communities.
  1. Communities will thrive when the business community invests time, expertise, products, services, volunteerism and many other intangibles that yield significant future dividends.
  1. Site visits to impacted communities are important because the business leaders can see the damage first-hand and determine how they can best assist.
  1. Remember to leverage your expertise, resources and partners for an efficient, equitable and comprehensive recovery.