More Than $67 Million from Business for Disaster Response This Month

May 28, 2008

This morning the Washington Post covered the significant mobilization of business aid for the disasters in China and Burma.  The Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) has been coordinating and tracking donations since Cyclone Nargis hit Burma on May 2 and the 7.6-magnitude earthquake shook central China on May 12.   

U.S. companies have pledged at least $54 million in cash, goods and services to victims of the earthquake that devastated the Sichuan province of China two weeks ago, the third-largest international aid package ever assembled by American businesses.

About 19 businesses -- including consumer goods manufacturer Procter & Gamble, beer brewer Anheuser Busch and pharmaceutical company Merck -- have pledged $1 million or more. Two of the largest donors are Amway, a direct-sales company, with $4.3 million, and big-box retailer Wal-Mart, with more than $3 million. … In addition, the deadly cyclone that struck nearby Burma, also known as Myanmar, has spurred about $3.7 million in assistance from U.S. businesses, according to the center.

Since the article’s release, corporate donation tallies have already increased significantly, surpassing $67 million: as of 2:00 p.m., $61 million has been mobilized for the response in China, and another $6.9 million for Burma. Since BCLC began tracking corporate donations, this is the 3rd-largest corporate response to an international disaster. We expect the tally to keep going up and up, as immediate relief turns into long-term rebuilding and as clear recovery needs become more apparent.

Other disasters - domestic and international - that BCLC has officially tracked include hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005 (combined $1.2 billion), the 2005 Kashmir earthquake along the Pakistan-India border (more than $100 million), the 2007 southern California wildfires (about $17 million), and the Peru earthquake in 2007 (about $1 million).

We track and report company donations because the nature of disaster response has changed.  Disaster response includes much more than government-only relief because it’s a far lengthier engagement than evacuating, sheltering, and saving lives.  The full disaster management spectrum includes preparedness planning, risk mitigation, immediate relief, and long-term rebuilding, and the business sector has unique resources and expertise for each of these components.

Our goal in tracking business contributions is to build models for effective corporate involvement in disaster response. We’ll have a new report out in two weeks that offers many examples of business-sector leadership and business partnerships in disasters. We invite you to share with us your own stories of involvement.

And yes, the Post writer did make a mistake when she identified BCLC as part of the Commerce Department. We are an affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and we will continue to tell you about all of the good works of the business community.

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