Canadian firms open their wallets

Majority of firms donating money to help in wake of tsunami disaster: Conference Board study

Canadian firms are opening their wallets in the wake of the tsunami that swept through Asia on Dec. 26 killing more than 150,000.

The Conference Board of Canada surveyed its members to find out how much organizations were giving and found that, on average, respondents were giving about one-tenth of one per cent of after tax profits to the cause. That’s about the same as firms in the United States, it said.

“Canadian organizations are recognizing they have global roles to play in response to the tsunami disaster, both immediately and in the longer term,” said Judith MacBride-King, director of human resources management research at the Conference Board of Canada. “In addition to cash donations, they are providing in-kind goods and services, helping other Canadians donate, and supporting their employees, those located in the region and with family in the affected areas.”

What organizations are doing

The Conference Board surveyed 139 of its members from Jan. 4 to Jan. 7. A total of 50 organizations responded, and almost all (86 per cent) said they have made or plan to make contributions to relief efforts.

Of these contributors:

•31 per cent are matching employees’ donations;
•26.2 per cent are making stand-alone contributions; and
•42.9 per cent are matching employees’ donations and making stand-alone contributions.

Some employers have put information on their websites so employees and customers can learn about the disaster and make online donations to relief agencies.

Others have established donation depots or special accounts to collect contributions or are allowing customers to donate their reward points to charity.

Looking ahead: Creating a plan to help in case of a disaster

The Conference Board of Canada offers the following advice to employers on developing and implementing a disaster response plan:

The development and implementation of a disaster response plan helps organizations reduce waste and ensure relief agencies and other stakeholders receive what is needed. Such a plan saves critical organizational time and provides guidance in establishing relationships with relevant stakeholders and partners.

The Conference Board has developed an outline of how to put together a disaster response plan:

Step 1: Formulate the plan

• Determine corporate goals for disaster response.
• Define the criteria for corporate response to a disaster (and the exceptions).
• Define the type of corporate involvement.
• Determine where the budget for cash, goods and services and volunteers will be drawn from.
• Determine the approval process for the provision of cash, goods and services, and volunteers.
• Determine financial limitations for disaster response expenditures.
• Define financial expenditures by type of corporate involvement (by percentage of total financial contributions or by dollar value).

Step 2: Develop the action plan

• Establish roles and responsibilities
• Determine who makes the initial decision and ensure that he/she is involved in response efforts.
• Determine who is in charge of implementing the disaster plan.
• Define roles and responsibilities of key internal contacts.

Establish a Communication Plan
Internal Communications

• Create a contact network throughout the company.
• Establish a central information source for employees.
• Develop a backup communication plan.
• Determine employee needs and co-ordinate employee involvement.
• Identify contacts to provide ongoing senior management briefings.
• Recognize employees who participated in disaster relief.

External communications

• Identify internal media contact to co-ordinate media response.
• Identify internal contact for public inquiries.

External partnerships

• Review existing partnership arrangements with relief agencies and build on these as appropriate.
• Explore partnership opportunities with other groups, agencies, departments, etc. in all phases of disaster relief (preparedness, response,
• Establish partnerships to help meet the short-, medium- and long-term needs of the victims.

Step 3: Implement the plan

• Assess the situation (often through location management’s reports).
• Begin responding to local management requests, employee needs or requests, and decisions at headquarters.
• Co-ordinate cash or product donation, volunteer or other activity with local management, major relief organizations, and human resources if
your employees are affected.
Organizations should use the Plan–Do–Check–Act cycle of continuous improvement to monitor, update and improve their plan over time.

Source: Adapted from Developing and Implementing a Disaster Response Plan—Getting Started(New York: The Conference Board Inc.).

Latest stories