GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

Who hasn’t been impacted by the devastation of the massive earthquake that hit Haiti last week? The outpouring of relief efforts from individuals, communities and organizations has been praiseworthy. We learned many valuable lessons from Katrina, the most important being how to mobilize quickly and respond to a crisis in an appropriate manner. For businesses, there is a fine line between how to activate relief efforts that are not only good for their business, but are also good for the community, and how to not take advantage of a crisis in order to gain publicity. Most importantly, it has to fit the brand and make sense. Take Whole Foods, for example . The natural foods store created a Haitian Fund late last week to collect donations from all 289 stores nationwide. They are encouraging their staff and customers to make donations through the end of this month during checkout that will go directly to several organizations leading relief efforts in Haiti. Whole Foods is also working with vendors to deliver additional food and water to the country. I look forward to seeing their financial results, as I know it will be tremendous.

I’d be remiss to not mention one of my favorite businesses, TOMS Shoes. They kicked off a campaign within hours of the earthquake to donate $5 from every One for One purchase /content.asp?tid=510 to the relief in Haiti through Partners in Health for the first 48 hours after the crisis. And if you are a fan on Facebook, you received this information real time. In addition to their monetary donations for immediate disaster relief, they have more than 30,000 shoes scheduled to be distributed in Haiti in February to help with rebuilding efforts. You can’t get any smarter than TOMS Shoes. I’d love to sit in on one of their brainstorm meetings. Can you imagine the conversation: ”Hey, I know, how about we send 10,000 pairs of shoes to Haiti? No, make that 30,000.” And then not having someone say they couldn’t afford it. They are brilliant and true to their core. No marketing campaign could possibly impact shoe sales and create more loyal customers. In fact, I’m off to order my next pair online now.

Let’s not forget the American Red Cross . The organization pulled in major star power to encourage text-message donations for earthquake relief in Haiti last week. The Red Cross is the biggest relief organization with a system in place to receive such donations, which are sent by cell phone to 90999 and billed at $10 each to the cellphone account. According to a recent NY Times article the total raised, a small portion of which will be shared with other members of the Red Cross federation, puts the organization well ahead of other relief groups in fund-raising for operations in Haiti. As of late Sunday, the organization had collected pledges of $103 million, about $22 million of which came through the text-messaging program. However, lessons are already being learned because apparently the funds are only pledged (and therefore tied up) until people pay their cell phone bills. It will be interesting to see how this emerging form of new media evolves with regard to cause marketing efforts.

These are only a few examples out of many admirable businesses making a difference. Hopefully there will be hundreds more jumping in to help support organizations like the American Red Cross and others who have given their time, money and products to help the people of Haiti not only in the coming weeks but months ahead as they rebuild and rise above this catastrophe. Follow us on Twitter @GroundFloorPR to hear the latest on our clients who are joining the Haiti relief efforts. Challenge: how can your business help?

~ Amy

Related Posts