Following the intense power of Hurricane Harvey, millions of Americans were affected and displaced by widespread flooding and devastation. Two weeks later, thousands of residents are still bound to shelters with nowhere to go and little of nothing to cling to.
In the storm’s wake, companies like Amazon, Google, and Walmart have offered millions of dollars worth of support to those affected by the memorable storm. Brands like Pepsi have provided truckloads of drinking water and supplies to make living without the comforts of home a little more bearable and a lot less painful.
While you may be unable to write hefty checks or send massive shipments to offer relief to hurricane survivors in their time of need, there are still plenty of ways you and your small business can help and offer your support to those who need it most.
What can my small business and I do to lend a helping hand?
GIVE — In addition to individual donations to relief efforts led by long standing organizations like the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army, there are plenty of other ways you and offer financial or tangible support to disaster victims as a small business owner. Giving away products en mass may not be an option, but momentarily waving shipping fees or offering discounts to consumers in affected areas are small, yet meaningful ways to show that your business cares and that you appreciate your affected customers. You might also consider funneling proceeds from product or service sales to a fund set up specifically for victims through a trusted non-profit or relief organization that will ensure the funds reach those in need.
If you know a large part of your audience base would like to join your mission to help, consider starting a more personalized crowdfunding campaign to raise and donate money in a way that aligns with your brand’s morals, values, and mission.
GO — If you’re able, nothing says “support” and shows solidarity like meeting victims where they are and physically lending a hand. Just like a group of hairstylists did in Houston recently, you can offer your products or services — and a smile — without even a thought about invoices or inventory. You may not think this effort is big enough, but to people who have literally lost everything, the gesture can mean more than you know for you and your brand. As we’ve seen on a larger scale through Tide’s mobile Loads of Hope efforts to provide disaster victims with clean clothing, consumers aren’t quick to forget brands that don’t forget about them in their lowest moments.
RALLY YOUR NETWORK — Even if you’re just starting out or are unable to give or go directly to victims in need, there’s still power in your small business network’s ability to provide assistance to storm survivors. Take this opportunity to unite with the members of your local small business alliance or small business resource hub and see what each member or participant can offer. Even if the end result is care packages or small kits with the essentials, you and the small business owners in your network have the power to make a valued difference in the lives of others.
If some members are able to volunteer in affected areas on behalf of your group, consortium, or organization, focus on supporting them as they prepare to travel away from their own homes, families, and businesses in hopes of helping others restore and reclaim their own.
What do I do if me or my business is in need of a helping hand?
If you find yourself facing the aftermath of a natural disaster and its potentially paralyzing effects, it doesn’t mean that your small business is doomed. Thanks to a number of resources, you and your brand can bounce back — supported and fortified to take on whatever else the future brings.
Organizations like the National Small Business Association offer funds and loans to help small business owners rebuild and restore their businesses when disaster strikes.
If you’re facing the rebuilding of your small business in the wake of tragedy or loss, Jali Creatives can also help you develop a plan to get things up and running while offering you the care and support you need to persevere and rebuild.
As Hurricane Irma churns closer to the Southeastern United States, what ways could you start offering your support to other small businesses and boutique enterprises? If you've weathered disaster in the past, how did you manage to pick up the pieces? Feel free to share your experiences and offer your strategies below in our comments section.