It's hard to focus on work when your hometown is being devastated by the worst hurricane to hit Texas in decades. FEMA estimates that 30,000 people will be displaced from their homes and living in shelters this week thanks to Hurricane Harvey's record-setting rainfall.
One thing helping me sleep at night is watching how the business community has jumped into action, putting together creative solutions to help Houston relief efforts. From big businesses like Walmart and Amazon to celebrities and athletes, everyone is coming together to to help those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
Here are 5 things your business can do to help out too:
1. Donate Physical Supplies From Your Business and Drive Them to Texas
If you run a product-based business, you can donate your inventory to help victims of Hurricane Harvey. Chobani loaded up trucks filled with edible inventory and sent them to Texas. Duracell is giving away free batteries at various locations around and in affected areas. And Walmart shipped 795 emergency truckloads of supplies and sent them to Texas (including lots of water).
All three companies are using social media to coordinate their efforts and communicate locations, times, and drop off points to the Houston Community.
2. Make It As Easy As Possible For Your Customers To Donate
H.E.B. deployed a statewide store tear pad campaign making it easy for buyers to add a small $1, $3, or $5 donation to their grocery bill at checkout. Proceeds will go directly to the American Red Cross for Texas Flood and Hurricane Relief, The Salvation Army, and Feeding Texas.
Apple created a Red Cross donation page on iTunes to allow users to donate without having to leave the iTunes Store.
And Marcus Lemonis announced on Twitter that Camping World would be accepting cash donations from anyone who wants to participate in relief efforts (even if you don't buy anything!). Camping World will match donations up to $2 million. They are also accepting clothing, shoe, and pet food donations.
3. Donate Donate Donate Donate Donate Donate Donate
Every dollar counts to help people who've lost homes, cars, pets, or irreplaceable items like wedding albums or family heirlooms.
Microsoft pledged a $100,00 grant to the Red Cross. Houston Texan's owner Bob McNair is donating $1 million to the United Way of Greater Houston Flood Relief Fund. The NFL is donating $1 million to the United Way as well. And Amazon and Whole foods are also matching donations (up to $1 million) to the Red Cross.
Here are some local relief efforts your business can donate to:
4. Waive Your Fees
Both AT&T and AirBnB are waiving fees to accommodate extenuating circumstances caused by Harvey.
AT&T reached out to customers via text writing, "If you live in one of the select Texas counties impacted by Hurricane Harvey, then you won't be charged for any data overages from 8/26-9/1."
Airbnb wrote on its website that "All service fees are waived for those affected by the disaster and checking in between August 23, 2017 and September 25, 2017." They've also provided a quick and easy way for people in affected areas to offer and list their space for free, if desired.
5. Use Your Platform To Spread The World and Get Your Famous Friends Involved
Don't discount leveraging your celebrity or influence. Kevin Hart called out his famous friends in a video that went viral this morning on Instagram.
Baseball player Clint Capella is using his twitter feed to broadcast emergency needs, telling followers to, "Tweet me and I'll share as many emergency situations as I can. Stay safe Houston."
And in a valiant effort combining several of the recommendations above, Texans' defensive end JJ Watt set up a crowdsourcing campaign to help victims of Hurricane Harvey and exceeded his goal within 24 hours, causing him to quadruple his target amount. The campaign is at over $900,000 as of this publication.
You can donate to that effort here.