Preparing for the Worst, Offering your Best

** While writing this blog post, Hurricane Matthew is pummeling the southeastern United States after sweeping through the Bahamas, Haiti, and Cuba. For information on providing support for the response, please see our website. **

Whatever you believe might be causing the extreme weather events we are experiencing, the reality is that disasters are happening with increasing frequency and their effects are often catastrophic to the communities in their wake.  As a responsible corporate citizen, what can companies do to respond to disasters, particularly when their own stakeholders (employees, vendors, clients, etc.) are impacted?
SVCF has been helping companies tackle this question for years, and after answering FAQs from our clients, we thought other CSR practitioners could use this information as well. SVCF’s Corporate Guide to Disaster Response and Preparedness is a document that provides guidance and resources specific to companies who want to develop a disaster response strategy that effectively leverages their corporate responsibility programs.
In order to most effectively react when a disaster strikes, it’s best to have a strategy in place ahead of time. The Guide outlines the various stages of disaster response and the types of support to consider – while volunteers and in kind supplies can be impactful if applied where there is a real need, the most useful form of support is cash to an existing project/campaign organized by reputable organizations that are on the ground. Knowing what resources you have and how you want to deploy them before disasters happen will enable an immediate, timely response.
One question that we get every time a disaster hits is “What are other companies doing to respond?” The Guide provides a number of resources that provide benchmarking of corporate giving, including dollar amounts and which NGOs are responding on the ground. While it’s helpful to know what others are doing, other factors should be taken into account when deciding on a number – including whether your own employees are directly affected. There are ways for companies to provide direct assistance to employees in emergencies and your local staff can also inform you of what the situation looks like on the ground (and which NGOs are making the greatest impact).
We hope this Guide will be helpful to our CSR colleagues in providing a good starting place when a disaster strikes, and to help transition your approach from being solely reactive to becoming more strategic. If you have any questions about the Guide or corporate disaster response, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! SVCF’s team of corporate responsibility experts can provide more information and assistance in developing a disaster response strategy.  
For more information on how SVCF can assist your company, please contact