American businesses are generous. In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, corporate donations quickly surpassed $157 million. With the even more powerful Hurricane Irma bearing down on Florida, there could be much more generosity to come.
For many businesses, doing good can be an opportunity to build your brand. But in our experience, that only works if you follow a couple important steps.
When a tragedy like Hurricane Harvey strikes, many people and businesses feel the desire to help. Jim McIngvale, known as Mattress Mack in the Houston area, immediately opened his showrooms to those displaced by the flooding in his hometown. He put a message out on social media inviting them to come enjoy a safe, dry place. He provided food and water for the hundreds of evacuees that showed up.
Before deciding how to help, look at what is authentic to your business and your brand. Mattress Mack certainly went above and beyond, but his decision to help was right in line with what he does and his reputation in the community.
Houston Texans football star JJ Watt was once focused on endorsements. He starred in commercials and movies and hosted awards shows. But in the past year, that has stopped. JJ, admittedly, has different priorities now: his family, friends, football and his charitable foundation. So sitting in a hotel room watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey, JJ decided to act. He set up a charitable account and used his reach on social media to ask for donations. Within a week, JJ had raised $18.5 million and reinforced his new brand.
Don’t Do It For Fame
A decision to help, whether by donating money, product or time, should never be made with the intention of getting positive press. MyPillow inventor Mike Lindell built his business on his desire to help people. So it made perfect sense when he decided to donate 80,000 MyPillows to the victims of Hurricane Harvey. He didn’t make the decision to generate media attention, but it did end up getting coverage in his local market of Minneapolis and led to a national Fox Business News interview.
Mattress Mack received praise on social media and was featured on local and national television shows from CNN to ABC News to CBS This Morning. However, media coverage wasn’t his motivation for helping. This isn’t the first time Mattress Mack has opened his showrooms to evacuees. He did the same thing following Hurricane Katrina, proving his desire to help comes from the right place.
The great thing about generosity is all involved, from the giver to the recipient, tend to benefit. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”