There are four basic ways organizations can offer their social responsibility talents in times of need:
Philanthropy: Donations of money and in-kind services. If you’re Bob Kraft of the New England Patriots, you can send your private plane to China to pick up PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) in the form of N95 masks for healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID19 battle. If you are fashion designer Ralph Lauren, you can make marks, isolation gowns and throw in an additional $10 million in response to the global pandemic. On a smaller scale, Ocean State Job Lots asks for 2% on every purchase to add to their $2/hr increase for employees who are essential workers.
Advocacy: The American Bar Association advocates for the rights of special education students in this piece, which provides instruction on everything from advocating for needed services to documenting the decline in learning progress during COVID19: https://www.americanbar.org/groups/litigation/committees/childrens-rights/practice/2020/advocating-for-special-education-services-during-covid19/
Volunteer Hours: Companies like Timberland have years of experience providing the opportunity for their employees to give back. Since 1992, Timberland has offered employees up to 40 paid hours each year to serve in their communities through their Path of Service program. In 2019, Timberland employees served over 72,000 hours.
For those organizations who are looking for ways to contribute during COVID-19, there are volunteer-finding platforms such as Idealist (www.idealist.org) and VolunteerMatch (www.volunteermatch.org) to help find the right cause for your organization and employee base – both have options for filtering remote-only and coronavirus-specific opportunities. For example, I plugged in my city name and found opportunities that ranged from transporting fresh and prepared food from businesses to local human service organizations (through the nonprofit Rescuing Leftover Cuisine) to Table Wisdom, a video chat service that allows you to reach out to specific partners for regular chats on a range of topics during social distancing. Love for the Elderly (www.lovefortheelderly.org) is an organization with volunteers from 56 countries looking for those who would like to send hand-written letters to the elderly living in care facilities who need an emotional lift. And if languages are your thing … consider volunteering for Translators Without Borders (www.translatorswithoutborders.org) to help translate documents that will convey important information about COVID19 and how to prevent its spread to people around the world.
New Products & Services: How can an airline help during these unprecedented times? Delta Air Lines is partnering with the U.S. Air Force, UTS Systems and Highland Engineering Teams to deliver up to 76 rapidly deployable pods to help military troops infected with COVID-19 return home. Delta’s Technical Operations division and wholly owned subsidiary Delta Flight Products combined their advanced manufacturing capabilities to begin converting dozens of single-use, 40-foot shipping containers into rapidly deployable, reusable hospital care pods. Each pod is designed to attach inside military transport aircraft.
In many ways, COVID19 has been a major triggering event for us to start thinking, planning, and acting differently. Is there a way your organization can make a difference, using your unique talents and resources, during these trying times?
Robin Schell, APR, Fellow PRSA is Senior Counsel and Partner at Jackson Jackson & Wagner, a behavioral public relations and management consulting firm based in the Seacoast area of NH. For more information about the firm, visit www.jjwpr.com or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.