How your company can maximise Disaster Relief - part 1

Understanding what motivates donors to give is complex; trying to influence or engage them more so. The immediate aftermath of a disaster is often a critical time when businesses seek to give and encourage their employees to do the same.

In 2015, Disasters had a devastating global impact as over 1,000 natural catastrophes were reported globally. Moreover, $80bn of economic loss was incurred that year as a result of natural disasters. This type of loss creates a deficit that can destroy businesses, livelihoods, homes and entire communities.

We have worked closely with companies across the globe to deliver flexible and tailored solutions to the critical issues facing business and communities such as disaster relief. Last year, we administered around £2.2 million to disaster responses through the CAF Company Account on behalf of 118 clients.

Knowing this is an important topic for our clients, we convened 20 CSR experts from various industries to discuss businesses’ role in disaster relief response. What ensued was a lively debate, with a focus on how business can best provide support and expertise during disaster and humanitarian crises.

We have captured the debate in a two-part blog on disaster relief; this is the first half where we share with you some of the research findings we discussed during the debate.

The research developed by leading Economics academics from the University of Bristol, University of Warwick, and Indiana University, used our anonymised data to establish giving patterns and individual donation behaviour around six appeals by the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) throughout a four year period


Four key research findings:

1. Appeals encourage giving – large disaster appeals are effective in encouraging people to give as the act of donating  may motivate donors to give to other causes. This is equally true of annual telethons such as Children in Need and Comic Relief. Disaster appeals, therefore, do not adversely impact other planned fundraising activity and appear to stimulate a culture of giving. 

2. Donations are not cannibalised – during an appeal, donations are seen to spike for the disaster but do not create a deficit in giving to other charities. In fact, there is a simultaneous increase in donations to other non-disaster related charities during a large disaster appeal, followed by an eventual return to normal giving levels. 

3. ‘Hassle costs’ are reduced – donors tend to be more receptive to donating to other charities during disaster relief appeals. This may be caused by the donor being already primed to give and finding it easier to give to more than one charity at the same time.

4. Giving is emotive – effective disaster response campaigns can influence an individual’s need to help other causes. Therefore, there is no evidence that employees being asked to give for a number of different initiatives or charities will just select one. 

Rescue dogs


These are new findings, based on a huge CAF dataset, that debunk myths on donor behaviour, and challenge widely held assumptions. For our participants this prompted an interesting discussion on how to approach and maximise their potential to create a better society.

Take a look at part two of our Disaster Relief blog, where we explore the considerations businesses have to make to define their response strategy, what expectations their employees have, and how best to develop an approach that is tailored to your business.

We work with over 7,000 companies and manage over £2.5 billion for donors and charities, supporting over 50,000 NGOs and social enterprises in over 100 countries. We work closely with companies across the globe to deliver flexible and tailored financial products and strategic advice to address the critical issues facing business and communities such as disaster relief. 

We would love to hear your thoughts on this blog. For more information on how we can support you and your business please get in touch with our team.