Disaster Response: How to Empower & Educate Your Employees

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Whether a disaster affects your local community or the other side of the world, it can be upsetting to your employees, suppliers, and customers. After a crisis, your staff may be grieving or in need of support, and connecting with workplace giving programs can help them feel empowered. By putting a plan in place now, you can be ready to jump in to help your employees and your community. Here are some steps to take: 

Step 1: Listen to Your Staff

Sometimes, a disaster’s impact on your staff will be obvious. If a tornado strikes your town, your staff will be affected in some way. Sometimes, however, it may be less obvious. For example, when sudden floods hit western Germany in 2021, many international companies in other countries were affected because their European headquarters or suppliers were based in that region. Building good relationships with department managers and listening to staff will help you understand when people are upset or affected by unexpected events.

Step 2: Make a Plan

Next, make a plan for how you will support your staff. Consider what kind of response you are able to provide. In general, financial support to established, local organizations is the best way to help. But if your company’s skills or products are being requested by response organizations, volunteering or in-kind contributions may be appropriate.

When a crisis affects your team, customers, or suppliers, connect with Bright Funds as soon as possible. We can give you guidance and provide full campaign materials to help you support employees. For major incidents, Bright Funds will proactively provide these materials, but we can also assist if you are impacted by an incident that does not make global headlines. We can help you identify nonprofits for giving and volunteering, disburse funds more quickly, and monitor your team’s impact.

Step 3: Leverage Leadership to Launch the Campaign

If your staff has been impacted by a crisis – directly or indirectly –  work with your leadership to send employees a message of support and empowerment. Your team wants to know that leadership cares about them and understands that they are feeling dismayed. In addition to connecting employees with any employee assistance resources your company provides, this is a good opportunity to connect them with your tailored giving campaign.

Your messaging should include:

Message 1: You’ve Removed Barriers to Informed Giving

It can be overwhelming to identify reputable organizations that will use donation funds wisely and in a timely manner. In times of information overload, staff may end up being paralyzed by the research process. Bright Funds can help you eliminate that problem by identifying nonprofits that are reputable, already established in the affected region, and able to make an impact  quickly. In addition, we can help you put together a disaster relief fund that supports a multi-faceted response.

Message 2: Remind People of Giving Incentives

If your company offers matching donations, this is an excellent opportunity to remind employees that they can multiply their giving. Depending on your standard operating procedures, your staff may not have engaged with your giving program’s details since they were onboarded. They are more likely to give (and give more) if they know their company will amplify their impact.

In addition, you could consider increasing the match amount you offer. For example, if you normally match staff donations dollar for dollar, your disaster response match could be 2:1.

Message 3: Help Employees Volunteer as Appropriate

While most disaster response volunteering requires specific training, untrained staff may still be able to volunteer in meaningful ways, including in virtual or remote capacities. For example, your company could host a blood drive so that staff, customers, and suppliers can support healthcare providers in treating survivors. In addition, animal shelters frequently receive an influx of foster cases after a disaster–even if the disaster was several states away. Staff can give these animals a safe haven by becoming foster guardians.

Some staff may find themselves drawn to in-person disaster response. In this case, they should get training from the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, FEMA, or another organization that can ensure they have skills that are needed at a specific disaster site and that their skills are deployed at the right time.

To help your staff volunteer wisely, be sure to post volunteering events on Bright Funds so that they can find opportunities and track their volunteer time in one place. This will reduce their research burden and help you track your company’s impact.

Step 4: Stay Connected

Continue to monitor the situation and your staff’s wellbeing over time. As the situation develops, you may need to work with your leadership and Bright Funds to update your giving and volunteering campaign to match staff needs.

Step 5: Share Your Impact

At regular intervals, share your team’s collective giving and volunteering impact with your staff. Bright Funds can help you monitor these numbers. While individual team members may only be able to give a small amount, it can be motivating and healing to see what they accomplished together.

Whatever You Do, Prepare Ahead of Time

Disaster is inevitable. It will affect your workforce, customers, or suppliers at some point. Setting up an adaptive, responsive CSR software program, training a group of employees on the process, and building a strong relationship with Bright Funds can empower your staff during a trying time. Like any team, if you have the playbook and training set up, you’ll do well when you really need it. 

Contact us to discuss how we support other companies in their disaster response.

Bright Funds

Bright Funds