hurricane damage

Many small businesses are never able to reopen after a devastating weather event. Here is a shot of the damage in Long Beach, Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. (Photo: FEMA.gov)

The economic impact of Hurricanes Florence and Michael will exceed $100 billion. Obviously, the biggest tragedy of catastrophic weather events are loss of life. Small businesses also fail to survive extreme weather events. In fact, according to statistics by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), almost 40% of small businesses do not reopen after such an event.

Not reopening not only affects the small business owner, of course, but also the employees and the community at large.

Are you a small business owner yourself? Is your store is doing fine and is located well out of reach of the devastation zone? Then, should you feel moved to do so, you can help another small business owner reopen.

Here’s how….

Pick a Business, Any Business

Sure, you can donate money to the Red Cross or other non-profit relief agencies. But your money may actually make more of an impact for a small business owner. This by no means is a suggestion not to donate money to relief organizations. However, if you can double up on your charity, you can directly play a part in helping a small business reopen.

The first step is picking a business that’s been affected by the natural disaster.

How to choose?

Pick a business that’s in your own industry. Let’s say you’re the proprietor of a barbecue restaurant. Wouldn’t that be great if you knew your barbecue brethren had your back in case your business was affected by natural disaster? You can simply do a Internet search for a similar business in a town that’s been affected.

Getting In Touch

The next step is getting in touch with the business owner. In the immediate days of a disaster, this can obviously be challenging. But as power is restored, you may be able to call the business line directly. Or, you may have more success getting in touch with the business owner through social media. Posting on the business’ Facebook profile may work.

Ways to Help A Small Business Owner Reopen After a Disaster

Once you get in touch with the owner, have a candid conversation with he or she. Ask what the prospects are of reopening. Remember, nearly 4 in 10 small businesses will not reopen after disaster strikes. If the owner replies that prospects are dim, ask if they have a plan to raise revenue for reopening once utilities are back online and it’s safe to rebuild. If the owner replies there’s no such plan, here’s how you can help:

Crowdfunding: MobileCause and good360.org are examples of crowdfunding sites, specifically for disaster relief. Of course, you can choose any crowdfunding source such as the popular GoFundme and CrowdRise to raise money. Some of these platforms specifically raise money for disaster relief organizations, while others such as GoFundMe can help raise money for any cause.

If you’re too busy to personally set up a GoFundMe page for a small business, you can delegate the task to an employee. And if you have young Generation Z workers, they will be motivated to help you set up the page.

Another way to help is very easy. On your point-of-sale system (POS), include the option to round up the bill to the nearest dollar to donate to disaster relief. You can instruct your employees to inform customers at checkout that your business is raising funds specifically for [enter small business name here], affected by [enter natural disaster name here].

Yet another way to help is by rewarding your customers for donating. For example, for every customer that donates $10 or more, they will be rewarded with a coupon. You can announce the philanthropic promotion on social media and to your email list if you have one.

These are just a few ways you can help a small business owner reopen after a devastating natural disaster. When catastrophic weather events occur, it’s often the kindness of strangers that helps communities rebound.

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