5 Ways to Make Charitable Giving Count
Natural disasters can occur without warning, leaving widespread devastation in their wake.
This year, millions of Americans were impacted by Tropical Storm Harvey and Hurricane Irma, as well as by Northern California wildfires – just three of many unforeseen events that claimed lives and wreaked havoc on communities around the country.
In fact, the U.S. has experienced more billion-dollar disasters in 2017 than in any year previously, except 2011. USA Today reportsthat 15 separate weather and climate disasters have each caused at least $1 billion in damages in the U.S. this year. According to Fortune.com, damages from Harvey alone could reach $180 billion, and CNBC estimates claims from Northern California’s recent wildfires at more than $3 billion.
To help ease the burden these events have placed on the communities our credit union clients serve, it’s critical for the credit union vendors, partners and other firms that support the movement to step up their disaster relief efforts. Implementing financial and logistical measures to help aid credit union members, employees and volunteers in need can go a long way to helping people in affected areas more quickly repair their lives.
Here are a few best practices to consider:
1. Act Swiftly
Tropical Storm Harvey hit mainland Texas late on Aug. 25, leaving areas in and around Houston quickly submerged in flood waters. Fortunately for many impacted credit union members, the National Credit Union Foundation delivered a much-needed rapid response. Within days, the industry association established a specific CUAid fund for Harvey victims affiliated with credit unions. CO-OP joined many others in the movement, donating $10,000 to the mission.
Today, CUAid offers a choice of funds supporting those still suffering from Harvey, Irma, California wildfires and other natural disasters – including options to help future victims. To learn more or donate, visit cuaid.coop.
2. Create Partnerships
One of the greatest challenges individuals face when natural disasters strike is the process of evacuating. These urgent orders leave little time for evacuees to plan their next steps – including how to pay for the goods, services and lodging they will need while displaced.
Accessing funds and accounts during a disaster can be particularly difficult for credit union members and employees who find that their home branches have temporarily suspended service, or that they have been relocated outside the geographic reach of their credit union.
Importantly, this partnership laid the foundation for future joint initiatives designed to help the credit union community navigate disasters.
3. Deliver a Targeted Response
On the West Coast, thousands of homes were threatened or lost this year due to unprecedented Northern California wildfires. CO-OP responded with a $15,000 donation to one of the area’s most severely impacted credit unions, resources designated for both community relief and to aid the credit union’s employees.
4. Prepare in Advance
While responding to adverse events as they unfold can dramatically improve the outcome for victims, so can providing a safety net in advance. To that end, we encourage credit unions to participate in shared branching and nationwide ATM networks that give members far-reaching geographic access to funds and accounts wherever these events take them.
5. Do Your Research
Unfortunately, we live in a world where scam artists see natural disasters as opportunities to commit fraud. We caution credit unions to properly vet any organization that solicits disaster-related donations. Before committing funds, consider checking with CO-OP or another industry resource to confirm the fundraising campaign is legitimate.
We encourage you to once again make philanthropy a priority in 2018. Your efforts can be maximized through programs such as CO-OP’s Miracle Match program in support of Credit Unions for Kids fundraisers. Not only is charitable giving a part of “people helping people,” it also reflects the values and aspirations of the members you serve.
Joe Franklin is Vice President, Experiential Marketing and Engagement for CO-OP Financial Services. He can be reached at email@example.com or 800-782-9042, Ext. 4076.