How Businesses, Including Apple and Amazon, Are Helping Victims of Hurricane Harvey, and How You Can Too
Hurricane Harvey made landfall in Texas as a category 4 storm on Friday. There are predictions that by the time the storm lifts, some areas could receive more than 50 inches of rain -- Houston has already experienced more than two feet. There have been at least six reported casualties due to flooding.
FEMA director William Long told The Washington Post that he anticipates that the agency will be working to help rebuild communities affected by the storm for years.
The business community has put action plans into place to help those communities harmed by the storm, from matching donations made by employees to deploying financial assistance and volunteer programs. Read on for ideas about how your company can help relief efforts as well.
What you can learn: You can build a social mission right into your technological platform. Apple is known for ease of use, and it applied those principles to its giving model.
The plan: The ecommerce giant and recently acquired grocery chain Whole Foods have pledged to match cash donations, up to $1 million, that are made through users' Amazon Pay accounts to send to the American Red Cross.
What you can learn: Even if you aren't able to afford what the Amazon’s of the world give, you can still set up a partial or full matching fund for your workforce.
The plan: From the beginning of the storm through Sept. 1, Airbnb has a hub for the Austin, Dallas and San Antonio area that allow those displaced by Harvey to stay in hosts' homes for free, including waived service fees. Though there have been some glitches, the company’s social media team has been working through it. \
What you can learn: If you have the resources at your disposal, find a way to harness them for social good. And part of disaster preparedness is understanding that there will be hiccups -- and acting accordingly.
The plan: Facebook activated its safety check feature and its information hub about the storm. The company included a feature for users to start fundraising through the site for those affected.
What you can learn: In all things, especially high stress situations, let your users be your guide.
The plan: The company has donated a $250,000 Google.org grant to the American Red Cross and is matching employee donations up to $250,000 as well. The company said that the aid will go to the the American Red Cross, Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity and Team Rubicon. It also launched an SOS alert and said in a company blog post that it has been in contact with government officials to “support their efforts on the ground.”
What you can learn: Your employees will remember when you support them.
The plan: The company pledged $1 million to the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Convoy of Hope, Operation Blessing and Team Rubicon. The company also has an employee assistance program called The Homer Fund that provides emergency financial assistance to employees impacted by the storm. It is also running a Hurricane Command Center in Atlanta to stay on top of what supplies the 42 stores that were closed in the path of the storm need to get their communities up and running.
What you can learn: There are no quick fixes in an emergency, and it requires both advanced and on-the-spot action.
The plan: Microsoft’s philanthropic arm is donating “an initial $100,000 grant” to the American Red Cross to help with relief efforts, with more to come.
What you can learn: Understand that in dealing with disaster preparedness, it is often not enough to help just once, but continuously over time.
The plan: The company’s PepsiCo Foundation is donating a $1 million grant to the American Red Cross. More than 10,000 employees live in Texas and the company said that it is “prepared to help local authorities and disaster relief agencies marshal necessary resources to affected areas and address immediate needs,” as well as provide supplies such as Aquafina water to areas that are harmed by the storm.
What you can learn: Think about how the products you create can make a difference when disaster strikes.
The plan: The company donated $250,000 to the American Red Cross. Customers can make a donation to the Red Cross when they come in any U.S. store. The company also has an employee matching program and an employee assistance program -- the Starbucks CUP Fund -- in case of disasters such as Harvey.
What you can learn: Your customers likely come to you because of convenience and a mission that they believe in. Make it easy for them to make a difference.
The plan: The company activated its Emergency Command Center in Wilkesboro, N.C. -- a practice that has been in place since 1989's Hurricane Hugo -- and shared that 90 stores were closed due to the hurricane. It donated $500,000 to the American Red Cross. The company also has a volunteer organization called Lowe’s Heroes that will help with relief efforts in areas hit by the storm.
What you can learn: Remember that your business is a member of the community, so act accordingly.
The plan: The company behind Budweiser halted its normal beer production to send more than 155,000 cans of drinking water to aid communities affected by the storm.
What you can learn: Anheuser-Busch has a regular policy to make canned drinking water in case of events such as Hurricane Harvey. You can make helping others an integral part of your day-to-day processes.