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    5 Things Your Small Business Can Do Now To Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey
    The Vault

    5 Things Your Small Business Can Do Now To Help Victims of Hurricane Harvey

    August 2017

    Hurricane Harvey has paralyzed southeast Texas. The images are staggering, and estimates place the total cost of property damage and lost revenue in the billions. The Category 4 storm has weakened, but now Harvey is a Tropical Storm just hanging over Houston (and other cities), pouring more water on top of the devastation. Texas needs our help. Take it from me. My family is there.

    Corporate America is already doing wonderful things. Companies like Home Depot, Apple, Google, United Airlines, and more are all stepping up -- to the tune of millions of dollars. But what about small businesses? You’re kind of stuck in the middle, right? You can’t give like Budweiser, but you want to do more than just make a small, personal donation to charity. Here’s what we suggest:

    1. First, stay put. 

      Your heart is in the right place, but traveling to the area now will only get in the way of first responders and trained volunteers. When the flood waters recede in the coming months, there will be plenty of opportunities for teams to travel to Texas and help with cleanup and rebuilding -- in ways we cannot even imagine yet. You can put your feelers out for employees who might want to join you on that mission (and you should aim to provide paid time off to do so), but for now, stay out of the way. 

    2. Remember that cash is King. 

      Many organizations have been clear that cash, or cash equivalent, is preferred. That’s because receiving, warehousing, sorting, and distributing physical donations takes an entire infrastructure and workforce that doesn’t necessarily exist. In other words, your physical donations can be a burden. 

      The people of Texas need money right now, plain and simple. Find an organization that provides direct outreach to displaced people needing hotel rooms, clothing, food, and other basic necessities. Make a donation from your business account, and/or have everyone in the office pitch in and contribute as an organization. Keep receipts if you intend to claim those donations on your tax return. 

    3. Try to keep paying your displaced employees. 

      Here’s where it’s going to get really tough. If you have offices in the path of Hurricane Harvey, you’re likely not going to be open for quite some time. Revenue will be lost. But if at all possible, keep paying your affected employees. They and their families will have needs we cannot yet fathom. If you can’t do it alone, encourage your employees to help. You can retain a portion of their paychecks and, together, present a gift to your east Texas employees. 

    4. Put a collection bin in the office for the RIGHT things. 

      Charities will soon be making public the items they need, everything from hygiene items to diapers and baby formula. When they do, a collection bin in your office will be a wonderful thing. Encourage employees and clients to contribute only what is asked for. Again, do not make contributions a burden on those working in the area. 

    5. Use this disaster to make service a part of your company's mission. 

      This disaster has captured our national attention, as it well should, but we know from experience that the next one is just around the corner. How will you help then? 

      Charities need physical assistance all year. Fundraising needs to happen annually. Vow to place your company at the forefront of making a difference, even when national news isn’t devoted to the cause.

    On a final note, though not related to outreach, I want you to ask yourself the following, “Would my business survive a natural disaster? Could I keep operating if my buildings were flooded, burned, or otherwise obliterated?” Almost 40% of small business owners don’t reopen after a natural disaster. Use this time, too, to disaster-proof your business.

    From someone personally affected, thanks for reading and for reaching out.


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