January 12, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti - How Companies Can Help

As I’m sure you’ve heard, a big earthquake hit Haiti today. While details are relatively limited at this point, it seems clear that the earthquake has taken a major toll. In the wake of such disasters, companies often step up with offers of support, but in the confusing hours and days after such an event, it can be hard to know how to help.

Just after the 2004 tsunami, I wrote this article for onPhilanthropy about how companies can best contribute to disaster relief efforts. While it’s several years old, I think the advice is still relevant, so I’m posting it for those of you who may spend Wednesday working on your own company’s response.

Here are a few other resources that might be useful:

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center has a website focused on supporting companies around issues of disaster relief. The page has a ton of great information, including a phone number specifically for companies that “Need help responding to … a disaster”. Tomorrow, as information (hopefully) starts coming out quickly, the best way to stay up to date might be Twitter – follow the Center @chamberbclc or its Executive Director, Stephen Jordan, @scjordan.

The Council on Foundations published a guide called “Disaster Grantmaking: A Practical Guide for Foundations and Corporations”, which you can find here. (Note that this link is to a PDF.)

The Committee Encouraging Corporate Philanthropy also has a website dedicated to resources for companies engaged in disaster response efforts.

I find information sharing to be critically important in times like these, so if anyone comes across specific information about how companies can be helpful in responding to this particular earthquake, I’d really appreciate it if you’d share it in the comments below. Similarly, please share any resources you find that may be helpful for companies considering whether and how to help. Finally, if your company makes a donation, or if you hear about a company that does, please share that, as well, so that we can begin to track the corporate response to this earthquake.

Thank you, and good luck to everyone involved in this effort.


  1. Here at the Commitee Encouraging Corproate Philanthropy, we've found that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center has shown great leadership in connecting grantmakers with critical information and support in the wake of natural disasters. Historically, they have organized conference calls within a few days that connect interested funders with on-the-ground experts. The Center has also consistently maintains lists of corporate donations. As Jessica suggests, I recommend following BCLC on Twitter and signing up for their email alerts to be notified when/if they schedule such a call this week.

  2. One great piece of advice I've always heard from you Jess is that it's valuable for companies to think about rebuilding efforts and funding those - perhaps setting aside some of the funds for later, when the dust has settled and the focus of the world maybe has moved on.

  3. Jessica,

    I just read a very interesting post called The Power of the Tweet that illustrates a simple action on Twitter resulted in the VP of White Pages.com listing Haiti relief information on the very, well-trafficked site. It is a great example of how Twitter is accelerating the pace and scale of digital activism.


    Thanks for your post. Enjoyed it.

    Deron Triff

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