As Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) professionals and those thinking about disaster philanthropy plan for the year ahead, I encourage keeping one eye on the past in planning new strategies and commitments.
As the impacts of severe weather and complex crisis continue to grow, my hope is that more companies and their CSR and/or foundation branch will begin to develop disaster resilience strategies that incorporate mitigation and preparedness initiatives, and reserve additional funding for long-term recovery in addition to their response efforts.
As the Center for Disaster Philanthropy has indicated, most of the money provided for a disaster is given within the first thirty days. And although U.S. corporations are among the most generous in the world, most face extreme pressure from various stakeholders including C-suite executives, employees, and customers to name a few, to make their commitments quickly, to publicly be the first out of the box, often before the unique needs of a community are identified.
One of the steps that The UPS Foundation has taken in recent years is to develop a broad spectrum of strategic partners and engage in initiatives that focus on preparedness, response, and recovery. When the 2017 hurricanes hit, The UPS Foundation was able to make our financial and in-kind commitments quickly, with specific grants for immediate relief, with one unique difference. We also included commitments to long-term recovery, which will be allocated in the months to come, as the unique needs of communities come to light.
We never lose sight of those long-term needs, shared in news cycles long past but still urgent. For example, while UPS was providing support for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, we were also working with Good360.org to transport donated furniture to Baton Rouge, helping more than 100 families return to their homes more than a year after the Louisiana floods of 2016.
In 2018, we will once again award new commitments to our partners, but rest assured many of these will keep one eye on the past, to support recovery efforts in Houston, Florida, and in the Caribbean, through grant, in-kind, and volunteer support efforts until our communities are built back better, and more resilient.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is a tremendous resource, with tools like the Disaster Philanthropy Playbook that can connect corporations and foundations with agencies filling vital long-term needs of families and communities, who are looking to the new year with hope that they won’t be forgotten.