The effects of the recent bushfires have been devastating. Here are a few options for how you as a business owner can support those whose lives and businesses have been affected.
Donate. Donations are tax deductible so donate. See below for a list of options for donating funds and goods.
Donate profits. This one is a bit iffy. Some businesses may be able to multiply the donations they can generate by selling a “bushfire-related” product or service. But it has to be done carefully and with sensitivity. Consider donating 100% of profits of the special product/service. If you only donate a portion of profits (thereby keeping some for yourself), you could be seen to be taking advantage of the situation for your own financial gain. And that’s poor form.
Donate your time, skills or resources. If you have specialist skills or knowledge or resouces, offer them to a bushfire-affected business or community that could benefit from your expertise. Contact the local councils.
Support your bushfire-affected suppliers. Get in touch with any of your suppliers who might have been affected by the bushfires – that could be directly affected or indirectly affected. Have a chat to understand their situation; how are they, how’s their business, what’s it going to take to get back on track and how long. Then you’re in a position to assess how you can best help; consider offering accelerated payments while they get back on their feet. Also consider shifting the way you structure payments, such as more upfront and less at the back end.
Support your bushfire-affected clients. Like with your suppliers, reach out to your clients who might have been affected by the bushfires and see how they are and how you can help. Again, that may be with payment terms. Consider allowing longer times to pay, lower upfront deposits, and /or staggered payments.
Look for opportunities to buy from bushfire-affected businesses. Some businesses will have stock that is undamaged but has limited shelf life. They risk losing that stock if it can’t be moved so help them out by buying it. Buy direct from bushfire-affected producers – they get more profit from dealing directly with buyers than going through agents or supermarkets.
Spend your tourist dollars. When the time is right, spend your tourist dollars in affected regional areas. As part of the Victorian Government’s `Business & Sport for Bushfire Recovery’ program more than 150 organisations have pledged to hold conferences and events in regional Victoria.
Question: Should I make my staff to donate their money or time?
No. As a leader, you can model the behaviours you’d like to see in others (your staff, your clients and suppliers) but it’s not your role to force them to do anything.
Question: Should I allow my staff time off to volunteer?
If you have a policy about volunteering, use that. If not, have a chat with your staff members and work out what you think is fair and reasonable for both the business and them. If you need more help, get the advice of an HR professional. Our friends at HR Staff and Stuff can help, too.
Question: Should I publicise my donations?
That’s up to you but we think not. It feels a bit like bragging or like trying to benefit off that back of someone else’s misfortune.
If you feel that you really want to let people know you support bushfire relief, then we suggest doing it subtly – in other words, acknowledge the efforts of those people who are doing their bit, encourage other people to support and donate, share links, but don’t boast about out how much you’ve given.
Question: Should I start my own fundraising campaign?
You could start your own fundraising campaign but it might be faster and easier (and more effective) to just encourage people to donate directly to an existing organisation.
The goal is to raise support for the crisis and recovery efforts, not to raise the profile of your brand.
How businesses can support Australian bushfire recovery
Give funds and goods
It’s My Shout (buy virtual goods from impacted businesses)
FundABed – Find A Bed’s fundraising appeal
Bushfire relief fundraising events
Give time (volunteering opportunities)
Tradies for Fire Affected Communities – a Facebook group for Tradies to volunteer help
Rebuild Together – connecting people willing to volunteer time and skills with those needing help