Corporate Giving through the Lens of Disaster Response

Last month, Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017 provides estimated amounts of total giving to charitable organizations across the United States over the past year. This year’s report reflected a number of significant findings, including:

Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 8.0 percent in 2017, totaling $20.77 billion (an increase of 5.7 percent, adjusted for inflation). Contributing to this increase was $405 million for relief related to natural and manmade disasters that occurred in 2017.

When disasters strike, businesses mobilize their expertise, capabilities, and community resources to assist with the relief and recovery efforts. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Corporate Citizenship Center (CCC) runs Disaster Corporate Aid Trackers as part of our Preparedness, Response, and Recovery Issue Network. The Chamber Foundation’s tracker serves as the keeper of the records for business' response to disasters and detail how companies are responding.

Following the string of disasters in 2017—to include Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma, the Mexico City Earthquake, Hurricane Maria, the Las Vegas shooting, and North Bay Wildfires—CCC’s Corporate Aid Tracker recorded over $426 million in total contributions from the business community. As Giving USA reported $405 million contributed toward disaster relief, the Corporate Aid Tracker shows that number only scratches the surface of corporate giving following the 2017 disasters.

These contributions from the business community took multiple forms beyond pure dollars. Their support includes employee volunteerism and in-kind products and services to help impacted communities rebuild and recover. When you look at the Corporate Aid Tracker, you see the vast number of examples of companies using their expertise and resources to help communities recover, including:

  • PwC—Volunteers from the company’s Veterans Affinity Network worked on the ground with Team Rubicon assisting with their rebuilding operations in Texas communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey. PwC teams provided pro bono assistance through damage assessment and advisory support.
  • UPS—Provided in-kind transportation services following Hurricane Maria by flying UPS planes to Puerto Rico and Cuba, delivering meals and critical relief supplies, such as tarps, hygiene kits, mosquito nets, and shelter tool kits. The supplies helped thousands of families recover and rebuild their homes and communities. Following Hurricane Irma and the Mexico City Earthquake, UPS also provided in-kind technical expertise to provide support for long-term needs ranging from rebuilding to personal and financial recovery assistance.
  • The Coca-Cola Company—Donated more than 1.4 million bottles of water and other drinks to relief organizations, helping people impacted in local communities in the Caribbean Islands, Mexico, the southeastern U.S., and Texas.
  • IBM—After hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico, and the earthquake in Mexico, business operations were disrupted for many. For small and medium-sized businesses who are particularly vulnerable, IBM stepped in to provide in-kind technology and services to help them recover such as access to leading technologies for operations and data management. Together with local partner organizations, IBM deployed mobile and cloud disaster response applications to support businesses during their time of recovery.

Support like the four listed above are not included in the monetary totals, or the tracking by Giving USA which means we’re missing the entire picture of business giving. Business support of communities is significant. We need to make sure we’re also encouraging and acknowledging the powerful impact of business when they harness their expertise and resources—in addition to monetary donations—to benefit communities around the world.