Pitching In: How Small Businesses & Law Firms Can Provide Disaster Relief
As a vast understatement, many of our fellow Americans are facing severe difficulties in the wake of a disastrous late summer and early fall. From hurricane-torn areas in the southern states and Puerto Rico to devastating forest fires up and down the west coast, as well as the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, millions are in need of serious aid.
That being said, it can be easy to fall into the trap of believing that making a difference requires a sizable check. Not true! We’ll explore other ways small businesses and law firms can make a positive impact and help others in this week’s post.
1. Donate or share PTO.
If employees of yours have been hit harder than others by recent disasters, you might consider leading an office-wide effort to fund some extra time off for those in the most need to recover. There are several ways to do this. Avvo offers a few examples:
- Give affected employees a few extra days off to get things in order, or give employees a few days of PTO to go volunteer.
- Employees can forfeit some of their accrued PTO back to their employer in exchange for a cash donation to a reputable relief agency.
- Employers can establish a “leave bank” where employees may opt to forfeit some of their PTO to go to a specific person or people in the office in need.
2. Volunteer as a team.
If you and your staff live near an affected area, consider taking a day off from work as a team and lending your time and abilities to volunteer efforts. You can also take a field trip to your local blood bank and dole out cookies afterwards.
3. Match donations.
If your employees or coworkers have expressed interest in making financial donations, offer to match (or double, or triple!) their contributions to either the nonprofit of their choice or one in particular that you can all get behind.
4. Gather & fundraise.
Are you well connected in your industry and/or region? Consider organizing a fundraiser of some kind and inviting everyone you know. Tailor it to your niche and capabilities; some people might host a barbecue; others may organize a formal gala event. Whatever your style, draw on your influence and network to come together and raise funds for those who are hurting and in need.
5. Provide resources.
You know that special something that sets you apart? Figure out how you can leverage it to help others. For example, Texas CEO and co-founder of SpareFoot.com Chuck Gordon just offered a free month of storage space for Hurricane Harvey victims. His company compares storage spaces and rates and he saw an exponential increase in storage space search queries before and after the storm. He knows the value of holding onto whatever you may have left and wanted to offer his company’s services to those who may not be able to otherwise afford it. Decide what you can reasonably offer and find a way to get it to those who need it.
6. Let guests use your wifi, facilities, or other needed amenities.
If you’re near an affected area but remained unscathed, consider letting clients or others hop on your wifi or come in and charge devices during your business hours. Being able to access the internet for relief services is crucial for those who have been displaced.
7. Host a blood bank.
As you’ve likely heard, many established blood banks have long lines or have been damaged. Assuming you have adequate space, you can partner with the Red Cross or other emergency service providers to host a blood bank on your property. You provide the space, invite donors, and the organization does the rest. Win-win.
8. Get all over social media.
Whichever method(s) you choose, be sure to publicize it on your website and social media channels. The more people who see your efforts, the more potential donors and partners you’ll find. You may even inspire another person or company to pitch in and help out, too. Believe in the power of your compassion and reach.
9. Appreciate one another.
Above all else, be sure that your company provides an atmosphere of comfort and support. We spend the majority of our work days with our colleagues and it’s important to actively be there for each other when times are tough. Lead by example and reinforce humanitarian attitudes.