How Companies, Causes and Consumers Soar in Post-Hurricane Sandy Relief Efforts

By: Mark Dority, Director of Marketing

Last week, the unthinkable happened: a crippling super storm struck New York City and surrounding areas of the Tri-State region. As Hurricane Sandy weakened and the floodwaters receded, thousands were left homeless and millions huddled in the dark without electricity, heat and in some cases, working sewers. In the days since, access to necessities like food, water, clothing and gasoline has been severely restricted. The vital New York transportation system is limping back to life.  And The Statue of Liberty, which had just re-opened on its 126th birthday following $30 million in repairs, is again closed to the public, being the latest casualty in the storm-ravaged region where early estimates at the damage and cleanup costs are $50 billion.

Clearly this has been an event that residents up and down the mid-Atlantic and Northeast coasts would like to move forward from.

A little Help From Technology Goes A Long Way

What can’t be forgotten in the aftermath of Sandy, however, are the inspiring stories of hope, help and recovery stemming from both people and corporations. Corporate good may at times be overshadowed by corporate malfeasance in newspaper headlines, but in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, corporate good has had a chance to take center stage and soar.

And the diversity of that corporate giving leadership is as varied as peoples’ needs across the New York metropolitan area. That includes donated Duracell batteries and Proctor & Gamble’s “Duracell Rapid Responder” truck offering free charges for laptops and mobile devices, to other companies, like textPlus, offering 10 million in-app minutes to help Hurricane Sandy victims communicate with friends, family and loved ones. textPlus has been particularly helpful in areas with limited cell phone service, as the free Android and iOS app can be used over Wi-Fi networks – many of which are up and running at public locations.

Here at KULA, corporate good is central to what we do.  And in that vein, we too are committed to helping in Sandy’s relief. On November 2, 2012, we partnered with JetBlue Airways, New York’s Hometown Airline, to power an online giving website to aid the American Red Cross in its Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The online giving site allows loyal JetBlue customers, members of the airline’s TrueBlue loyalty program and consumers to make donations, and receive something in return. For every one dollar donated via the site, consumers will receive six TrueBlue points.

Promoted through social media channels (including Facebook and Twitter) and through email alerts to JetBlue’s loyal fliers, the website raised $100,000 within just hours of it going live. As I write this post, the site has helped contribute over $625,500 in donations (not including the $100,000 JetBlue is matching). KULA and JetBlue’s efforts combined with the reach and resonance of social media, speaks to the power of technology to pump up spirits as much as it can pump out flooded buildings, while incentivizing consumers to give back to the causes they care about.

This campaign comes just weeks before the start of the annual “giving season” — a time of year when up to 30% of annual online giving is donated in the month of December alone.  While recovery will take time for the New York and New Jersey areas and could last through the holidays, as we head into the last two months of 2012, we’ve pondered this question: how can consumers, companies and causes unite to “give a little more” this holiday season?

Changing Lives Through Donated Change: Contributions that Add Up

At KULA, we pride ourselves on helping companies change the way they view their loyalty programs by connecting with customers on a deeper level. That way, we hope our efforts inspire people to give to the charities they care about most with the greatest ease and efficiency. Efforts like that go a long way to ensure that last year’s impressive $298 billion in charitable donations (or about 2% of US GPD) will only increase as we close out 2012. Increased giving proves that in this day and age, post-Hurricane Sandy and the countless unnamed storms yet to come, there remains genuine substance and care left at this crucial time of year.

And it comes in the form of donations.

We help companies evolve programs that exist solely for gaining a consumer following into initiatives that help customers make an emotional connection with the company through causes they are passionate about.

Even in the face of a crisis, be it manmade or natural, the endurance of hope and the spirit of doing good are things we should celebrate both this month and next month: through the togetherness of family and friends, sharing in a good meal, participating in the joy around us…and giving to our neighbors in New Jersey and New York, or in Syria, Somalia, or anywhere else in need. 

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