How Businesses Can Help the Families of the Arizona Firefighters

Photo courtesy of The National Guard via Flickr

It’s devastating that 19 firefighters died on Sunday fighting a wildfire in Arizona. I know businesses are going to want to help. And after seeing how businesses responded after the bombings in my hometown of Boston, I have a few suggestions.

1. Donate what’s needed most, but especially cash. Give what you can and tell people what and how much you gave. People are expecting you to do something so be upfront. One of the places to direct cash donations is to the “Granite Mountain Hotshot Charity Fund” at Credit Union West in Arizona. Another is the Prescott Firefighter’s Charities. The 19 dead firefighters were all members of the Prescott Fire Department.

2. If your business has a cash register, set up a register program so customers can donate. If you can match their donations, even better.

3. If your company has made a donation, but is not a B2C business with a register, explore your options to donate a portion or percentage of sales from a product or service. You’ll find plenty of example on this Pinterest board. The fact that this tragedy involved firefighters means your business has a powerful group of loyalists to support sales. A business in the town next to mine found this out when they brewed a signature beer for a fallen firefighter. Rescue One Kölsch raised thousands of dollars as supportive firefighters from across New England purchased the beer in bottles and kegs and auctioned them off at local firefighter events.

4. If your company hasn’t made a direct donation to the relief effort, or if you don’t plan to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of a product or service (i.e. every dollar the consumer gave you with no deduction for expenses), don’t do anything until you’re ready to contribute with sincerity and resolve.

5. Continue to honor your commitments to other charities. Helping the families of these firefighters is critical, but you should donate additional money to help them, not deprive another charity of promised money.

If your company is strapped for cash, but you still wants to help, build your support into next year’s budget. The families of these firefighters will need help for a long, long time.