Preparing for future crises now
From massive natural disasters to complex and escalating conflicts, communities around the world experienced unprecedented incidences of crises requiring emergency response last year. The global cost for natural disasters in 2017 alone totaled $330 billion. In the wake of disasters, many companies mobilize to offer volunteers for on-the-ground rapid response activities and to provide financial assistance, often spending significant portions of their philanthropic budget on disaster relief. But, is there room for more to be done?
While disaster relief is critical, current risk trends indicate the need to start preparing for future crises now. For companies seeking to do more, investing in supporting nonprofits to prepare for these events can maximize the impact of their philanthropic dollars. In fact, a recent study by the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) found that every $1 invested in disaster preparedness and mitigation saves $6 on average in future costs. However, only 4% of all disaster spending is currently focused on preparedness. This represents a huge opportunity for companies to strategically direct their resources to meet a critical need nonprofits face in disaster preparedness, and pro bono service is a powerful tool to do so.
Leverage your company’s vast expertise
Through pro bono service, companies can leverage their vast expertise to equip nonprofit and humanitarian organizations with strong foundations to respond as efficiently as possible when future crises strike.
So what can your company do to help nonprofits prepare for disasters? Here are some examples:
- Support surge capacity planning for crises. Save the Children International needed support to understand how to best scale their operations for crises. A team of Deloitte consultants helped Save the Children develop a framework to define the guiding principles, structures, roles, and responsibilities around which they make decisions during humanitarian responses. Having a framework in place allowed Save the Children to rapidly scale their operations respond flexibly to crises and efficiently reach people in need.
- Leverage new technologies to improve data collection and management. An outdated data management system hindered the ability of the Association for Solidarity with Asylum Seekers and Migrants (ASAM), a local UNHCR implementing partner in Turkey, to respond nimbly to the needs of refugees and migrants. A team at IBM developed a custom and secure data management solution to improve ASAM’s ability to register and support refugees and migrants. This system also allowed ASAM to track migration trends and be responsive to emerging issues and potential crises.
- Strengthen global supply chain management for delivering humanitarian aid. When CARE needed support in building internal capacity to improve its global supply chain management system it turned to its longtime partner UPS. UPS previously supported CARE financially and assisted in efforts to ship emergency resources to communities experiencing crises. UPS wanted to take its commitment to CARE a step further and, for this project, leaned on its expertise in global logistics to help CARE implement a Commodity Tracking System, which facilitates inventory visibility and distribution during disasters.
- Develop a disaster recovery plan to withstand operational disruptions during crises. The Chicago Zoological Society (CZS) needed support in evaluating its sizeable IT environment, from animal life support systems to gift shop cash registers and financial systems. Funding constraints and an aging infrastructure meant that they needed to reevaluate operational priorities to ensure that it could operate smoothly and efficiently in the case of emergency. A team of Allstate Fellows reviewed and classified CZS’s critical systems to help CZS identify risks, redundancies, and workarounds in order to solidify a full disaster recovery plan. Pro bono support from Allstate allowed CZS to stretch its limited resources and ensure that it is prepared to respond to future crises.
Pro bono for disaster relief is necessary and important.
However, prioritizing emergency preparedness is a smart, strategic decision for companies seeking to maximize their philanthropic impact, strengthen their relationships with nonprofit partners, and deepen their employees’ commitment to their communities. Disaster preparedness takes many forms, and activating your company’s unique expertise through pro bono service can help to ensure that those most affected by disaster are able to receive the aid they need in a timely manner and enable communities to recover more quickly. What are the opportunities you see with your partners? What expertise can you deploy to help build stronger, more resilient communities in the face of future crises?