Business gets online aid advice

Anita Pati

The Disasters Emergency Committee has launched a web-based resource to help UK businesses contribute effectively to disaster relief programmes following last year's unprecedented number of international emergency appeals.

The idea was hatched after a meeting hosted at the Foreign & Commonwealth office last April to track how companies had helped after the Asian tsunami, and to discuss how business and NGOs could improve collaborative working in the event of another disaster.

The microsite will be hosted on the DEC website, where businesses and the public frequently go in times of disaster. But Business in the Community will co-ordinate the resource.

"We were involved because we have a large network of members we can use to collaborate on issues," said Tim Bishop, partnerships manager at BITC. "Although it was agreed that the DEC should hold the information, BITC agreed to use its members to help develop it."

GlaxoSmithKline and BSkyB donated the initial £10,000 to set up the site, covering design and some co-ordination. BITC and the DEC will share editorial control.

The site will offer best practice guidance on creating internal disaster relief policies, guidelines on how to forge strategic partnerships with aid agencies, links to more than 25 humanitarian and disaster relief organisations, comprehensive case studies from BSkyB and GSK and nearly 200 smaller case studies of tsunami responses from members such as Citigroup, Marks & Spencer, IBM and EDF Energy.

"The message that runs through it is that businesses should think more broadly across their organisations," said Bishop. "It's not only about giving the charity a cheque, but also about taking on long-term goals."

Another aim is for companies to consider their own stakeholders in disaster-struck areas.

BITC members donated more than £52m after the tsunami of December 2004.

A DEC spokeswoman said the concept of a one-stop-shop for companies wanting to help was a "brilliant idea".

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