Study Calls for Skilled Volunteerism in Corporate Disaster Relief

Study Calls for Skilled Volunteerism in Corporate Disaster Relief

Corporate philanthropy can play a more strategic role in helping communities prepare for and recover from natural and man-made disasters by proactively investing in skills-based volunteerism, a report from Common Impact finds.

The report, Insights & Impact 2019: Disaster Response — From Relief to Resiliency (19 pages, PDF), highlights the critical role skills-based volunteerism can play in corporate efforts to boost disaster preparedness and resilience and offers tools and guidance for supporting nonprofits and communities effectively. According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, currently only 1 percent of corporate giving supports disaster preparedness, while just 0.8 percent funds resilience, risk reduction, and mitigation efforts.

The report proposes a new approach that leverages skilled volunteering in three areas: translating private-sector expertise in business continuity, risk mitigation, and contingency planning to help close the preparedness gap for vulnerable populations; sending cash and in-kind donations to meet immediate needs, then following up with skills-based volunteerism to support longer-term recovery; and identifying local partner organizations that can define needed interventions in advance.

To that end, the report offers a Measurement Framework to help companies quantify the social and business benefits a focus on community resilience would create; a Pro Bono Project Portfolio of ways to leverage corporate expertise in strategy and operations, technology, marketing and communications, financial management, and human resources; and a Resiliency Assessment designed to identify gaps in an organization's ability to respond to disasters and pro bono projects that can help address such gaps.

"The current business environment and our research confirm that the business community must broaden its response to disasters from one of reactive donations to support immediate relief efforts to include a more proactive and sustained approach that allows community nonprofits to build resiliency through pro bono support in business continuity planning, risk mitigation, and contingency planning," said Common Impact CEO Danielle Holly. "Given our twenty years of work helping Fortune 500 companies engage their most strategic asset — their people — in building stronger communities, we understand the power of skills-based volunteerism as a critical investment in community resiliency."

"Common Impact Launches Disaster Response Program." Common Impact Press Release 09/11/2019. "Insights & Impact 2019: Disaster Response — From Relief to Resiliency." Common Impact Report 09/11/2019.