In the wake of the one-two punch of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by these terrible storms.
While immediate cash donations to relief organizations are very helpful, contributing goods and services that are unique to us as individuals or companies can be even more meaningful to those who need help. This is especially the case for local businesses that have been especially hard-hit and have long-term needs.
For example, like many others, we made cash donations for general relief immediately after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005. However, about 18 months later I (Pam) read that many business owners were still struggling to bounce back after the initial burst of attention and funding had faded. Since I was going to New Orleans on vacation, I connected with contacts at the U.S. Small Business Administration / Office of Small Business Development Centers who arranged for me to provide pro-bono strategic advisory help to several businesses that had been affected by the storm.
The company owners that I worked with were highly appreciative of this help so long after the flurry of attention had faded. It was also incredibly uplifting to listen to their stories of how they were persevering and living into their purpose despite many challenges. Going forward, I offered the same short-term and long-term-oriented assistance to small businesses in the New York metro area following Superstorm Sandy and will do the same for businesses affected by these recent storms as well.
For many local businesses, disaster recovery is extremely rough. Challenges include loss of customers, facilities, staff, limited resources, and more. It can easily take months or even years to bounce back. So before deciding the best way to help after the hurricanes or other disasters, ask “What types of help can I/we provide in both the short term and the long term that would be most meaningful to those in need?