In the aftermath of a disaster, one of the biggest challenges is understanding the needs of those affected and finding the best way to assist them quickly. Businesses often find themselves ‘throwing money at the problem’, without doing the proper planning and evidence to ensure the funds actually make a difference.

For all business leaders, it’s important to consider that impacted communities don’t always need what you think they need. Successfully supporting a community in a time of need is all about knowing what you could (and more importantly should) give, before you start giving. How do you do this?

We’ve pulled together a few tips…

  1. Leverage your business: Often the first response in a time of crisis is to throw money at a situation – and while this is sometimes effective – there are often better ways you can leverage what you have to support a community in need.
  2. …but leverage with caution: It’s important that you only leverage company assets that will be of use in a disaster. By sending a product or resource that’s not immediately needed, there’s a risk of slowing down the recovery process by creating unnecessary problems.
  3. Evaluate and address diverse stakeholder needs: There are many stakeholder groups of a business that can be impacted by a disaster – employees, customers, suppliers and the general community. The needs of, and your responsibility towards, all these stakeholders are different. Understand who is included within your business continuity and/or disaster recovery plan and who is not. Then fill the gap.
  4. Engage your employees: In times of disaster, employees will often put their hands up to assist, and will want to know what their employer is doing to help too. Having a Community Disaster Support Plan (CDSP) means the disaster relief implemented by your organisation will be pre-determined long before a major event occurs. As a result, youremployees who co-created your plan will immediately activate and proudly lead the most appropriate company-wide disaster relief program on behalf of your organisation that’s suitable to the event.
  5. Communicate efforts internally before externally: An important section of your CDSP is communicating internally to employees the reasons why, and why not, you will/won’t be supporting the cause. Letting your employees know first is important. The next step is taking the message outwards to your suppliers, customers and the general public.  This can often be a fine line between appearing to take advantage of a crisis and trying to do the right thing. As part of your pre-planning, each business needs to determine the most appropriate strategy that’s morally, ethically and professionally right for them.


Renae Hanvin brings to businesses (of all shapes and sizes) a unique understanding of connecting corporate goodwill to disaster-impacted community needs. With a personal commitment to educate, connect and motivate businesses to support the communities in which they operate, Renae proudly leads a national team of best practice emergency sector and community relations specialists.

To become a business leader in community disaster support visit

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