Disasters come in all forms. Natural disasters, such as a hurricane or earthquake, can strike with little to no warning. Government shutdowns can upend life for federal workers and contractors in devastating ways, and a pandemic can grind life as we once knew it to a halt. While small businesses often do not have the resources that large multinational corporations do to assist affected populations, they are still able to provide assistance in smaller but no less crucial ways.
At M Powered Strategies (MPS), we have three main ways that our company and staff of about 40 people can support the community year around. These ways include supporting organizations and people through pro-bono projects, volunteering, and donations, which are described further below.
Allowing employees to work on a pro-bono basis for organizations assisting those affected by a disaster is an excellent way for small businesses to provide value during a crisis. In a disaster, nonprofits may be under new stresses as they attempt to meet fundraising goals or serve vulnerable populations. Assisting with a variety of projects, including disaster and contingency planning and coordination, can be of immense help for struggling non-profits. At M Powered Strategies, we worked with a nonprofit to track their resources and deliveries of books and school supplies as the organization responded to multiple natural disasters that coincided with the beginning of the school year.
Encouraging volunteering is an important source of aid that small companies can provide even during ordinary times. During disasters, companies can strongly encourage staff members to volunteer with organizations that serve affected populations. In the event of a remote disaster, or in a situation where in-person assistance is prohibited, such as a pandemic, community engagement leaders can recommend virtual volunteering opportunities for interested staff members, often using resources compiled by Points of Light.
In times of disaster, small businesses can encourage employees to support disaster-related charities, as well as matching donations. Choosing charities as a company for corporate donations is an excellent way to donate where possible. Community engagement teams can also organize in-kind donations to organizations supporting individuals in need.
There are plenty of ways for small business to help during the COVID-19 pandemic, or any disaster. Extraordinary circumstances demand extraordinary responses, but they do not require an extraordinary size or budget.