In times of crisis, we feel the urge to help others. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Here are seven ways your company can help its stakeholders help others.
The coronavirus has now spread to nearly every country in the world and claimed thousands of lives. Companies were among the first to step up, pledging more than 80% of early funds to coronavirus response efforts.
So, how can your company keep up, balancing your business needs while also contributing to the wider effort to reduce the outbreak’s impact? Here are seven actions you can consider for your corporate coronavirus response:
1. Keep your employees safe.
Many companies are eliminating employee travel and offering work from home opportunities to their office workers. You can also use this opportunity to think critically about how your company should be supporting contractors and gig workers who may be without sick leave and paid time-off.
2. Listen to and learn from your peers.
How are your corporate peers responding? What can you learn from their responses, and what’s worth emulating? Google set up a 24-hour incident response team to stay in sync with the World Health Organization, and its leaders meet daily to make virus-related decisions for its global offices. Amtrak and others crafted thoughtful customer cancellation policies. Video conference and messaging companies are providing free trials and extending free services to support remote workers. Lush Cosmetics invited anyone to come into their stores to wash their hands. Starbucks took precautions with extra sanitizing measures in their stores. Think about how you should alter your company’s core business practices to respond responsibly to COVID-19.
3. Explore creative professional development solutions.
Major conferences by ACCP and Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship have been canceled out of caution for attendees’ health, but learning about corporate social responsibility doesn’t need to stop. There are plenty of online resources you can tap into during this difficult time, including trainings from the conference hosts mentioned previously, webinars from Engage for Good, a 16-hour curriculum in social innovation from Babson College, and GlobalGiving’s Learn Library.
4. Offer virtual volunteering opportunities.
In times of crisis, we feel the urge to help others. Give your remote employees the opportunity to serve, even as in-person group volunteering events may not be possible. Rather than allow social isolation, connect your employees with nonprofits that are making real change. You can also consider a remote mentoring program which pairs nonprofits with your employees for specialized advice, a board service program that matches nonprofits with your employee leaders to support governance and strategy, or these other ideas from Points of Light.
5. Help your stakeholders help others.
The most vulnerable people in any society are also the most disproportionately impacted by a crisis like the coronavirus outbreak. The elderly and people with pre-existing health conditions, for example, face a greater risk of developing serious COVID-19 complications. Furthermore, those without adequate access to healthcare or the resources to take time off from work may not get the care they need. To help those most vulnerable, consider setting up a few fundraising options for your employees, customers, or other stakeholders. Employees at companies like Microsoft and VF Corporation have contributed to the GlobalGiving Coronavirus Relief Fund.
“The VF Foundation was compelled to help respond to this global public health emergency in the communities where our employees live and work,” said Gloria Schoch, Director of the VF Foundation and Global Impact.
“Partnering with GlobalGiving to support the Coronavirus Relief Fund ensures that our collective donation is allocated where it’s needed most to have the greatest impact on the relief effort as the outbreak continues to evolve.”
Does your company match donations in times of crisis? The VF Foundation further inspired global team members to give by matching 100% of employee donations. “We all want to make a meaningful difference and leave a positive imprint on the world. Matching gifts are a powerful tool for engaging your employees and filling them with a sense of fulfillment and pride while enhancing your company’s collective impact,” said Schoch.
You can also launch a giving page to fundraise for GlobalGiving’s Coronavirus Relief Fund or any of our nonprofit partners’ important coronavirus response projects.
6. Think local—and remember, cash is best.
Needs in any crisis vary widely from community to community. Ask local community leaders how you can best help, and remember a cash donation—as opposed to an in-kind gift—gives responding organizations the flexibility to purchase the goods and services that their communities need the most.
Your investment in a local nonprofit responding to the COVID-19 will also go far! Local nonprofits are vital to the COVID-19 response effort, but they may lack the capacity to fundraise on a global scale. This means local nonprofits receive a much smaller share of charitable donations (a mere 2-3% of overall humanitarian funding).
7. Provide flexible grants.
GlobalGiving has helped funders like Ford Motor Company Fund support responding nonprofits in China and helped JPMorgan Chase support responding nonprofits in Europe.
Whether you’re looking to make new grants for your corporate coronavirus response or simply to support your existing grantees, now is the time to practice trust-based grantmaking.
There is no shortage of need for grant funding right now—like this project focused on distributing hygiene kits in refugees camps in Lebanon and this one alleviating child hunger in the United States. Even organizations that aren’t on the front lines are struggling to fundraise without a gala, educate without a classroom, and rally their staff remotely. In recognition of this period of hardship, GlobalGiving is making $1,000 microgrants to at least 100 vetted nonprofit partners in our community who tell us they need it in an effort to be flexible and listen to our grantees’ needs. [Get tips to help your grantees cope with coronavirus.]