August 30, 2017

As the nation watches Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast submerge with no end in sight, we’re all left asking ourselves and each other, “What can I do?” But for many corporate executives here in the U.S., the answer was clear.


Hurricane Harvey has been met with a storm of donations across industries, from big tech to big banking. By end of day Monday, at least 20 major American companies had announced a commitment of over $15 million combined, plus food and supplies.


Today, more jumped on board. And some corporate giving will mobilize individuals with dollar-for-dollar matching—an effective way to rally broader support in the disastrous aftermath still unfolding. A handful of companies have also issued powerful statements to show their concern and action. Here’s a quick look at who’s doing their part and how.


Matching for the Red Cross

Holding company Omnicom’s CEO John Wren sent out an email on Monday that encouraged employees, “If you want to help, Omnicom will match two-for-one our employees’ donations to the American Red Cross.” Amazon, too, will match up to $1 million in donations, which can be made through Amazon Pay, and MillerCoors, a minimum of $25,000. Amazon also created a “Red Cross Wish List” from which users can select and donate items those on the ground desperately need. Meanwhile Apple gave $2 million, and is encouraging donations to relief efforts through the iTunes store. And Google has made its own contribution of $250,000 with a promise of matching employee donations up to the same amount.


Taking action on the ground

Keeping its name in headlines after a vocal streak from the Muslim travel ban through the Charlottesville violence, AirBnB has offered free, “Urgent Accommodations” to any displaced residents, emergency workers, or volunteers needing a place to stay. Duracell also took to Harvey’s path, handing out free batteries to those affected by the storm.

And Southern Texas will receive over 2,000 truckloads of Walmart emergency supplies, along with 100,000+ cans of water sent by Anheuser-Busch, which actually halted a Georgia brewery’s production to can the water then dispatched to victims. Brewmaster Sarah Schilling said in a humbling company statement, “Putting our production and logistics strengths to work by providing safe, clean drinking water is the best way we can help in these situations.” And as for telecom, some Texas customers of AT&T will receive free credits for texts or data beyond their monthly plan.


Source: Anheuser-Busch


Corporate donations


Other companies, including Starbucks, PepsiCo, Exxon Mobil, and The Home Depot, have chosen to lead by example, each donating between $250,000 and $1 million (plus supplies) directly to Red Cross organizations and relief efforts along the Gulf Coast. Starbucks took to Twitter, encouraging solidarity from its 11.9 million followers:



Partnering with organizations experienced in disaster recovery


Beyond the American Red Cross, organizations are using innovative approaches to help the area recover faster. One is called Team Rubicon—an organization employing veterans to aid with disaster recovery. Another is SBP, experts in getting government money flowing faster to help people. By partnering with large companies like Toyota, UPS, and Entergy, SBP offers expertise and support in special processes that help local organizations react quickly. Their goal is to shrink the time from disaster to recovery.


These brands and orgs are showing they care, and making it easier for the rest of us to do so. The large corporations who choose to help are setting standards of action—in whatever ways they can—when national disaster strikes on this scale. Corporate responses offer a flicker of hope in the dark months, even years, ahead as the areas affected by Harvey attempt to rise above water. Here’s hoping the commitments multiply as relief efforts forge ahead.


Written by Alison Greenberg, Director at maslansky + partners

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