Ensuring Your Company’s Disaster Relief Donations Are Well Received

With Hurricane Harvey’s effects being felt in Texas and Louisiana for some time to come, businesses may want to help victims by making corporate donations. Corporate decision-makers should carefully consider ways to contribute, since some recent post-disaster efforts have not helped as intended.

Depending on your industry and your company’s size, you may have access to supplies or a service that will be useful to victims and aid workers. The New York Times recently listed the local organizations that will accept certain donations. Your efforts can be coordinated with an accredited organization or the local government to determine whether your donations qualify.

Risk management and insurance professionals who would like to help Harvey victims directly can visit the Insurance Industry Charitable Foundation’s (IICF) IICF Hurricane Harvey Disaster Relief Fund. The fund was established in response to a surge of inquiries from its community as to how it can help. The fund has already received $80,000 in commitments, and the IICF will forward all contributions to local nonprofits assisting victims in the area, including the American Red Cross and specifically its Hurricane Harvey disaster fund.

During catastrophes, experts generally encourage these sorts of finance-based efforts in lieu of sending tangible items without a partnership with a local non-profit. Many organizations suggest that it is best to let the aid workers on the ground use their allocated funds to get necessity items like water, toiletries and food. In its Tips For Giving In Times Of Crisis page, CharityNavigator.org dissuades companies from sending supplies ad hoc:

“[This] type of philanthropy is simply not practical or efficient. Even if mail could get to an impacted region, no one is set up to receive these goods, much less organize and distribute them to the victims.”

It has been well documented that donations of tangible items – especially used ones – can cause unintended problems. Some never reach those in need and eventually wind up in landfills; and certain used clothes, like old shoes and Halloween costumes, might insult survivors.

According to Kansas disaster response coordinator Hollie Tapley, about 75% of donated goods will go to waste despite the donors’ good intentions. “Money is the best way because we know culturally what people need,” Tapley told Kansas State Network before Harvey hit Texas. “One group needs something totally different than another group.”

Blood donations are always in high demand following a disaster and national blood banks sometimes hold emergency drives to allocate blood to the affected areas, which might not have the resources to hold their own. If you are determined to reach the affected area, confirm those details with the donation center’s organizer. Bloodsource’s donation locations can be found on the group’s website. The Red Cross also provides information for potential donors online.

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