7 Ways Your Small Business Can Help With Disaster Relief

In times of crisis, charity begins at home. Here are 7 ways your small business can lend a helping hand.
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When disaster strikes, aid relief efforts and help your customers do the same by getting your small business involved. (Photo: pinkomelet/Shutterstock)

When disaster strikes, most people look for ways to help out. As a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to help support relief efforts and be a resource for others in your community wanting to offer aid.

Whether you host a blood drive, dedicate a percentage of your profits to relief efforts or use your store as a donation drop-off, here are a few ways your small business can help those in need — and get more traffic to your store at the same time.

Collect donations at the cash register

When consumers are spending money on themselves, they’re often more likely to feel charitable at the cash register. Put out a jar on your checkout counter next to a sign that says you’re collecting money for the relief effort. It’s also best to clearly identify the organization that will be receiving collected funds.

Some businesses also set up embedded giving programs, which let customers donate a dollar or two by adding it to their total when checking out. Before going this route, be sure to talk to your small business accountant about how to properly set embedded giving to make sure you’re in compliance with tax laws.

Related: How to Create a Culture of Kindness in Your Small Business

Donate a portion of your own profits

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Choose a certain time period — even just one day per week — to donate a portion of your small business’ profits to a relief organization. (Photo: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock)

Another philanthropic strategy is holding an event or promotion where a portion of your business’ profits are donated to charity. Set a time period — a single day, week or even a month — where a set portion of your profits will be donated to help relief efforts. Knowing 10 or 20 percent of their purchase is going to a good cause will encourage customers to spend more in your store.

Matching gifts

You can also magnify the impact of your customers’ and employees’ donations by providing matching gifts. If you’re nervous about potentially committing to a bigger donation than you can afford, set a maximum. For instance, “We will match all gifts given by employees or donated through our business up to $5,000.”

Related: 8 Ways to Make an Impact through Charitable Giving

While virtue is its own reward, Katie Comer Ashley, who handles corporate partnerships for the American Red Cross, said participating in a customer donation program or cause-related marketing campaign can “help promote your business and brand, while also raising money for a good cause.”

Host a blood drive

If you can spare some extra space for a few hours, consider hosting a blood drive at your small business.

According to Ashley, “the need for blood is constant,” and in the face of a national disaster, it’s even more critical. “In Texas, we are closely monitoring our blood supplies amid this ongoing disaster,” she said. “With dangerous widespread flooding in southeast Texas, all blood collection organizations in the U.S. are making efforts to meet patient blood needs and to ensure a sufficient blood supply in storm-affected areas.”

Volunteer your time

Money isn’t the only thing you can donate in the midst of a crisis. Volunteers are also always needed. If you’re able, give staff time off if they’re interested in helping out. Or better yet, hold a company-wide workday where you volunteer as a team to assist a charitable organization.

Related: Cheap, Easy Ways to Embrace Corporate Social Responsibility

“We can’t do the great work we do without the power of our volunteer force,” said Ashley. “They are on the ground, ready to respond during disasters.”

Become a donation drop-off site

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Designating your business as a donation drop-off site is an easy way to get your customers involved with relief efforts. (Photo: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock)

Another option is to use your business as a donation drop-off site, where members of your community leave donations of physical goods, such as water, food, clothing and other essentials. By collecting gifts and coordinating their delivery to a non-profit organization, you’re providing a service for anyone in your community to participate in relief efforts.

Help raise awareness on social media

Ashley also said it’s helpful for businesses to leverage their social media platforms to help raise awareness and encourage others to give. “People love to see when businesses are donating to charities during times of need,” she said, so don’t be shy about sharing what you’re doing with the world.

“Every little bit counts,” she said. “Organizations, large and small, can’t serve those in need without donations and support. If you can’t give your dollars, then consider giving your most valuable resource: Time. Volunteer, get engaged, and make a difference. Everyone has the power to make an impact.”

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