8 ways businesses can help during COVID-19
Tuesday, May 26, 2020
In the midst of all the unprecedented challenges that companies need to focus on during the COVID-19 crisis, there is also an immense opportunity to do good. Right now, the world needs philanthropists more than ever and corporate giving offers another way for your company to differentiate itself and go deep as a leader.
So, before putting your corporate giving on autopilot, consider these eight tips to catapult your philanthropic impact. These suggestions apply to corporations of any size, in any industry, and in any location around the world.
1. Adapt your strategy.
Ideally, your corporate giving strategy already aligns with your company’s strategy and purpose. Now, give it a fresh look in the context of COVID-19. If you support a thriving local arts community, find out how you can help within this new reality.
For example, you can offer technical assistance to the local theater company to apply for federal loans. You can provide unrestricted funding to maintain basic operations and fundraising, so they can quickly scale back up when this crisis is over.
2. Volunteer virtually.
While employees won’t be sorting produce at the local food pantry, there are still many ways to help. Simply reimagine volunteering. Ask organizations what they need and then brainstorm ideas like staffing a virtual phone bank to request donations (and offer a matching gift for all donations raised).
Encourage small acts of goodness, such as donating blood, supporting local businesses, and delivering groceries to elderly neighbors. You can also quickly identify relevant and easy ways to engage your employees by allowing your cause partners to publish opportunities directly to your giving and volunteering program site.
3. Join forces with others.
No need to navigate your COVID-19 response alone. Find the crisis response funds in your community created by community and family foundations, corporations and individuals.
Pooled, leveraged and allocated to meet a wide variety of needs, these efforts can support the local food bank, domestic violence survivors, homeless families, frontline workers and more all at the same time. Here is a map of crisis response funds throughout the U.S. and a list of global funds.
4. Strengthen trusting relationships.
If your corporate giving program supports specific organizations, now’s a good time to ask them two questions: How are you doing? What can we do to help? Then listen. After listening well, act on what you learned.
What you assume they need might be different from what they actually need. But keep in mind that although we’re all in crisis mode now, this step requires patience. Be aware of power dynamics between the donor and grant recipient and take the necessary time to break down barriers and truly get to the heart of things.
5. Provide short and long-term support.
While disasters happen fast, recovery takes time. When other givers have moved on is the time when sustained gifts can make a huge and lasting difference — improving childcare infrastructure, strengthening our public health system, supporting e-learning equity in schools, and helping communities to emerge better than before. Careful long-term planning and strategy can help your corporate philanthropy have an impact that lasts for generations to come.
6. Embrace an abundance mindset.
Instead of specifying how organizations can use funding, offer them unrestricted, core operating support with the message “we trust you.” Just like you need money for research and development, executive coaching, talent retention and strategy development, so do nonprofits need unrestricted support that helps them not only survive but also thrive.
7. Create equitable solutions.
Across the United States and around the world, people of color, immigrants, elders, people with disabilities, and people struggling with poverty, homelessness, and incarceration are bearing the brunt of the effects of COVID-19. Inequitable access to healthcare, food, well-paying jobs, and even clean drinking water contribute to this disproportionate impact.
All people matter, and we must understand and prioritize those in greatest need. As we prepare for the recovery, corporate funders can help reimagine the systems the virus has revealed to be inadequate, such as closing the digital divide in our education systems and building a high-quality health care system available and affordable to all.
8. Don’t just react, innovate.
The businesses that emerge from this crisis successfully will be the ones who seize this opportunity to innovate. The same is true for corporate giving. Be a visible trailblazer. Remove rigid practices or policies and replace them with agile and leading approaches.
Perhaps your program has been weak because you didn’t yet have a clear giving strategy. There’s no time like now to create one. Don’t just bounce back from this crisis, bounce forward.
For more information, download the free guide "6 Mistakes Philanthropists Make During A Crisis (And What They Can Do Instead)."
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