When disaster strikes, support is needed



I posted the following on Socialize Your Cause, to share with people around the globe the story of the devastation caused by last Tuesday’s earthquake.

On Tuesday 22 February the New Zealand city of Christchurch was hit by a devastating earthquake, 6.3 on the Richter scale; bringing destruction and death by natural disaster the country hasn’t seen in recent memory.

New Zealand with a population of about 4.7 million, has been reeling since news of the quake. Christchurch one of the main cities, with a population of around 500,000 was getting back to normal after an earthquake on the 4th of September 2010.

The earthquake of 22 February struck as people were on their lunch break -12:51pm, and has caused a large section of the central business district to be shut down by cordons as police and rescue workers from across the globe search for survivors.



Offer help to Christchurch

A while ago I wrote “Don’t give discounts, make a donation instead” now that we’re shocked with the devastation and loss of life caused by the latest Christchurch Earthquake, it’s timely to think about how we can all help.

If you can’t give directly, ask your customers/clients to help; tell any with accounts that if they pay early you will make a donation on their behalf to one of the appeals. 

If you have suppliers in the quake affected areas, make sure you pay them on time. If they’re unable to trade they will appreciate getting your payment on time – even if it’s not due for payment just yet – pay it now. 

Another way you might be able to help is if you know people, businesses working in a similar field to you – ask if you can help releive them of some pressure. Take on some of their workload until things settle down for them – be big hearted and do it for free, do it from the heart.

The Shirt off Your Back

Would you give someone the shirt off your back? After reading Richard Branson’sScrew it, Just do it” and seeing the reference in it to when he selling copies of Student magazine, he was asked by a ‘beggar’ for some money, not having spare money Branson took off his clothes and handed them over.

How many of you, or your committee, board or executive are willing to go above and beyond to support the work of your organisation. How well have you “sold” your organisation to your supporters, would they go above and beyond and give the shirt off their back? The answer to this is probably no, no one would.

Why? If someone is a strong advocate for an organisation, would they give their all to it; especially in the case of employees, management teams and executives? Or, are some of these just seeing their role in the organisation as being “seen” to be doing the “right thing”.

We’re not suggesting people need go without to support the organisation, but they should be walking the talk, they should be “at one with it”, if they’re not, then it could be assumed that it’s only a “job” to them.

As individuals we all have the opportunity to help others, whether it’s being directly involved with a cause as a supporter (financial or other), offering our help as volunteers or helping in some other way.

We shouldn’t get caught up thinking that the only way we can help is monetary or time, we could help simply by offering to introduce others to the organisation. Some of these introductions could be just what the organisation needs to achieve a goal.

Perhaps we know a business that would be willing to assist in some way; perhaps we know where they could source something they’ve been looking for; all we have to do is be willing to look beyond ourselves and seeing that there’s others out there that need our help.

Organisations need to think about other ways that people can help, they can’t always rely on financial support. Draw up a wish list, task list, and look for people who may be able to steer you in the right direction to get what you’re needing.

You don’t have to do it all on your own, there are people out there willing and wanting to help, you just need to find and connect with those willing to give the shirt off their back.



We hear it so often – “thanks for your support, every little bit helps” – this is real cringe material.

I’ve previously written on this “Every little bit Helps”; and am now looking at this in a different way.  

If you’re receiving, what you see as a small donation; perhaps someone’s giving $5.00 on a semi-regular basis, that could be costing them to send it into you; how about looking at doing something to make it easier and more efficient for them to donate.

By offering these donors the option to set up a direct debit, direct credit or other automated donation, you can help them to help you more.

In doing this, you could find that some may decide to offer more; or give the same amount on a more regular basis.

When asking people for support, the reason their support is needed is the key to winning them over. You don’t (and probably shouldn’t) have a glossy multi-page brochure, this will give the impression that their money is going on things other than what it’s really needed for.

If someone is giving you $5 every month, thank them from the bottom of your heart; keep them up to date with how their money is helping. Subtle messages can often be more powerful than others.

If Mrs Brown can see that her monthly $5.00 has helped a child with their schooling, their health or the like; this could be all it takes for her to give more. She may decide after seeing she’s helped one child, that she’d like to help more.

What have you got to lose? Try new things to try and lift the level of support people currently give.

A word of caution though, don’t pull on the heart strings too much when talking to your supporters, this can have the reverse effect.



Image: Whisper © Pathathai Chungyam 


There’s more than one option

A while ago I wrote Nothing ventured, nothing gained, but after some discussions over the last few days about charity requests I thought I’d take a look at it from charity perspective.

Charities and others seeking support, putting their hand out for donations could be missing out on opportunities by not offering an alternative way people can help.

Recently I heard of a non-profit group seeking support, they rattled their buckets; and were surprised that very few people dug into their pocket to help. They even said things like “people were ok to continue drinking”, “they were still spending in shops”. Sure this can be frustrating for collectors; and perhaps they’re right in a way to question why people aren’t giving.

There could be all sorts of reasons why people didn’t throw money in the bucket; was it a cause they support? Was the message of why support was needed clear? Perhaps it was even the way the approach was made.

Whatever the reason, some organisations seeking support are cutting off people who might be able to help in other ways.

Perhaps what organisations could do is to have an information card, something simple, it doesn’t need to be a multipage document; a double sided business card would do the trick. These “cards” could be given to people who can’t help on the day.

What would the card say? First off it should restate, and reinforce the message of what the organisation does, the benefits of supporting it. And it should also offer other ways people can help.

What other ways can people help? They could be invited to help spread your message, they could be asked if they have a product that could be donated to an auction, they could be asked if they have a skill that could be offered to the organisation; or they could be asked to volunteer.

Really the ways in which people can be asked to help are only limited by the imagination of the organisation and the willingness of the organisation to offer alternatives.

No organisation can rely solely on people dipping into their pockets, imagination is needed to work out other ways people can help.