How to do business when it’s not business as usual.

The Australian bushfire season has already claimed 25 lives, an estimated half a billion animals, and has affected thousands of properties and burnt approximately 12 million hectares of land across the country.

Photo Credit to Matthew Abbott. 

In the face of such intense destruction, it can be hard to know how to react - especially as the owner or manager of a business. We all want to help and support our customers and communities doing it tough because let’s face it: trying to make a living or a profit while the country is burning around us feels - at best - insensitive.

However, as a business, you probably have more reach, influence and resources than an individual that can be utilised during this emergency. We’ve pulled together a few simple ways that you can help:

  • Donate directly to institutions doing work on the front lines of the crisis - organisations such as the RFS, WIRES, Red Cross, RSPCA and Animals Australia. We know that just giving a lump sum seems rather bland but the truth is these charities and firies need resources. On the plus side, it’s tax deductible.
  • Run a sale, discount or appeal - If you’ve got cash flow issues and don’t have a handy wad of cash just lying around (I feel ya) perhaps think about offering a percentage of your sales to go towards donations. There’s several businesses already giving up profit margins to donate or alternatively using their resources or spaces to host events, raffles or fundraisers. There’s even a coalition of retailers that have banded together under ‘Retailers for Bushfire Relief’ - you can join or find out more here. 

 

Sacha Lang reaching out to other Australian retailers to join the Retailers for Bushfire Relief Initiative. Source: LinkedIn  

  • Donate your services or expertise. If you or your staff have skills that you can offer - either to victims, charities, affected animals or areas, this can be invaluable. Think outside the box about how you can apply your business skill and strengths.

Run a hotel or AirBNB? Perhaps you can offer emergency accomodation for displaced people. Work in media or advertising? This morning we got a hold of this spreadsheet from Bolster Group / Catherine Rewha which suggests to adjust your paid media to remove affected and high risk areas from your target audiences (to keep the search and digital ad space clear for the organic community and social program notices to reach people in need, and provide warnings and updates to high risk and affected areas). Get creative and personal with it.

No skills at all? Hard to believe but if you’re really struggling to think of something, the Red Cross is also calling for additional blood donations. Round up your willing staff and let them have the afternoon to do it.

  • Communication. Use your channels and reach to spread the word about the fires, and ways for your customers to donate or help. Send a letter to your local MP or to the Prime Minister outlining your concerns not just as an individual, but as a business owner. It can be difficult to run a business in times of prosperity, let alone during a catastrophe - if the government wants a strong economy, then we need to address this emergency and the cause.

 

Photo from Forster, NSW. Credit to Franklin Fox. 

    • Finally, and perhaps the most impactful long term suggestion: look into your business practices and critique. We know this fire season has been longer and more intense than previous years as a result of global warming and climate change. Business and industry have the chance to step up - review their practices, supply chains, resource management and methodologies to move towards a more sustainable future.

These changes will once again rely on the type of business or service that you offer, but changes can be as simple as moving to a renewable energy supplier or encouraging all your staff to swap to an ethical Superannuation provider. Diverting our money and investments away from fossil fuels will help in the long game of preventing the root cause of bushfires this size and scale in the future.

Switching to a renewable energy provider for your business will help with our country’s emissions and health.   

We understand that a business cannot run on good intentions alone (similar to how a national emergency cannot be solved with thoughts and prayers alone) but there is actually a sound business case for offering philanthropy or support as suggested above.

Just to be 100% clear: this is a tragedy and not the time to chase profits, but - your customers are getting ever more informed, more aware and with a desire to live more sustainably. Ignoring the crisis and continuing on with ‘business as usual’ may seem insensitive at best, like we mentioned earlier.

However, at the worst it can look tone deaf and has the potential to damage your business reputation and public relations. Especially in light of so many businesses and industry members pulling together to aid the people and wildlife affected. The community will support businesses that support them.

 

Father and Son Volunteers Embrace in Glen Innes. Photo Credit to Dan Peled.  

Here, at 30 Acres, we’re taking our own advice and are currently in the process of workshopping the best ways our team can give back, so watch this space. If you have any further ideas, questions or comments please get in touch.

 

Posted on 08 January 2020

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