The Disaster Assistance and Recovery program is a mechanism for sharing the latest ideas on disaster assistance, practicing recovery plans, highlighting the good work of corporate citizens, and helping to rebuild the livelihoods of people affected by extreme events. Meet the network of companies working to improve disaster assistance and recovery in the U.S. and around the world.


Hurricane Sandy Update

Business-Nonprofit Disaster Portal



  • Business donations for emergency response efforts
  • Business expertise and innovations that improve the disaster management system
  • Skills based volunteering and in-kind donations
  • Business partnerships with NGOs and government agencies
  • Disaster response and recovery best practices
  • Preparedness and resilience initiatives
  • Case management of ongoing disaster recovery
  • Communication, coordination, and information-sharing mechanisms among public and private sector responders



  • Led a corporate delegation trip to Joplin, MO in January 2012 in partnership with the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce.  The trip brought companies from around the country to Joplin, MO to get a firsthand look at the tornado recovery, and find out ways to donate and invest in the community.  
  • Hosted a successful forum: Thinking About Earthquake Power Outage Challenges and Business Resumption, in San Diego, CA in March 2012.  The forum featured topics like coordination with government, energy challenges to business restoration after disasters, business continuity/risk management, how to pay for losses, etc.  More than 150 attendees from business, government, military, and academia actively participated.  
  • Brought together thirty businesses, government officials, and nonprofit organizations for a discussion forum entitled, Japan One Year Later, in April 2012.  Speakers from the U.S. Japan Council and Fluor Corporation led a discussion on Japan’s ongoing recovery and lessons learned from the terrible tragedy.  
  • Hosted a two day forum in Manila, Philippines in May 2012 in partnership with the American Chamber of Commerce and the Corporate Network for Disaster Response. The first day brought together 200 businesses from around the Philippines to learn business continuity concepts from established experts from around the world.  The second day was a groundbreaking facilitated discussion between the business community and the Philippines government on the topic of disaster resilience.
  • In May 2012, BCLC partnered with InterAction to host a discussion forum with businesses and NGOs on the topic of international disasters.  The discussion focused on how the two sectors can work together better in order to build better partnerships and improve the overall delivery of aid to people in disaster stricken areas around the world.  
  • As a follow up to BCLC’s forum with National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (NVOAD) in October 2011, BCLC created a new portal for domestic disasters.  The portal is a resource for finding out which national-level nonprofit is working in which phase and function after a disaster in the U.S.  The portal was made possible by Toyota.
  • Launched a new report entitled, The Role of Business in Disaster Response, in May 2012.  The report is a collection of 19 articles that detail how companies are using their expertise, innovations, and product developments to improve the way disasters are handled in the U.S. and around the world.  The report finds that there are many unique ways that companies are helping with disasters that far exceed traditional philanthropy.  It shows that companies are being a part of the solution simply by doing what they do best.
  • BCLC partnered with Good360 to host a webinar in June 2012 entitled, Best Practices for Donating Product for Disaster Recovery Efforts. The webinar highlighted how in-kind donations can play a major role in getting communities back on their feet, and how companies can determine what products are needed, when, so that donations meet critical needs at each stage.  
  • In partnership with the International Economic Development Council, BCLC hosted a workshop on improving disaster recovery in the United States.  The workshop brought together a very select group of economic recovery expters and representatives to identify best practices and lessons learned on preparedness and recovery efforts in disasters occurring since 2005.
  • In September 2012, BCLC brought together 25 public, private, and NGO leaders to discuss strategies for regional disaster and environmental resilience around the United States.
  • BCLC mobilized its disaster response mechanisms as a result of Hurricane Sandy.  We helped coordinate the business response to the disaster by taking the following steps:
    • Activated the corporate donations tracker, totaling over $113 million in corporate aid
    • Held multiple conference calls to help coordinate the business, nonprofit, and government responses.  Speakers on the calls included FEMA, SBA, EDA, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Queens Chamber of Commerce, Target Corporation, etc.
    • Received and processed thousands of requests through the BCLC Help Desk supported by Office Depot Foundation.  BCLC staff coordinated donations between companies and NGOs all over the world. 
    • BCLC was published in news articles and interviews regarding Hurricane Sandy.  This included an interview on MSNBC’s Your Business, and media coverage in Wall Street Journal, CNN Money, Fox Business, Bloomberg, Reuters, Huffington Post, etc.



Report: Role of Business in Disaster Response

The Role of Business in Disaster Response examines how businesses are utilizing their expertise to help improve community resilience, response and recovery in times of disaster. This report is the first in BCLC's year-long report series "The Role of Business." Read the report here, or watch the video here.



Webinar: Best Practices for Donating Product for Disaster Recovery Efforts

Listen to the webinar recording and download the PowerPoint presentation.







BCLC disaster LEAD

Gerald McSwiggan (email) works with companies to sharpen and clarify their role in disasters and help them be effective in their disaster preparedness, relief, and recovery giving and investing. During non disaster times, he leads forums, workshops, webinars, and publishes reports and whitepapers to improve the overall system.  In crisis time, he leads coordination conference calls, corporate delegation trips to disaster areas, tracks corporate donation information, and coordinates effective partnerships between the sectors. 



  • UPS: Ed Martinez, President, UPS Foundation
  • Office Depot Foundation: Mary Wong, President, Office Depot Foundation


Disaster Program Headlines:

Takeaways from FEMA’s Public-Private Partnership Conference


Yesterday I attended FEMA’s “Building Resilience through Public-Private Partnerships” conference, and wanted to share a few takeaways from the event. 

The focus of the conference was bringing together the business, nonprofit, and government sectors to build more resilient communities around the United States.

Joplin Business Community Speaks Out about Recovery Priorities


BCLC, through its National Disaster Help Desk for Business, has been working closely with the Joplin, Missouri, business community since the EF-5 tornado devastated the area on May 22. Rob O’Brien, president of the Joplin Area Chamber of Commerce (JACC), has told BCLC that it has three specific recovery priorities going forward:

FEMA, Red Cross, and National VOAD Tap BCLC’s Gerald McSwiggan as Business Specialist for New Mass Care Council

WASHINGTON, D.C.—As a nod to the importance of private-sector involvement in decision-making about disaster response, the U.S. Chamber BCLC today announced the appointment of Gerald McSwiggan to the new National Mass Care Council. The council, launched in May 2011, is co-led by the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (National VOAD), which together appointed McSwiggan.

Ask Ines: Disasters Can Happen to ANYONE


By Inès Pearce

With all the flooding, storms, tornadoes, strong winds, and more flooding over the past few months, we’ve received many calls into the Disaster Help Desk. What I want to address here are not the questions, but the sense of complete surprise that business owners and workers feel during times of disaster, and what you can do about it.

Here’s what BCLC thinks:

The Road Ahead: How the Past Decade of Disaster Relief Efforts Can Prepare Us for What’s Next



By Ken Sternad, President, The UPS Foundation

Building Public-Private Partnerships: Why is it so difficult?


There are many practical, logical reasons for government, nongovernmental organizations, and the business community to cooperate on disaster activities to maximize resources and reduce losses.  This cooperation is often described as Public- Private Partnerships (PPPs).  If all three sectors believe PPPs are desirable, why is it taking so long to build a structure to institutionalize this cooperation?  

How Does the Help Desk Help?



A year after the devastating Haiti earthquake, a question about how we coordinate during these large-type disasters came into the Help Desk. The caller asked, “I know BCLC was very involved collaborating in the Haiti aftermath, but what role specifically does the Help Desk play in disasters?” Of course, the caller was referring the National Disaster Help Desk for Business, a service made possible by the Office Depot Foundation.

Unconventional Haiti


By Gerald McSwiggan and Taryn Bird

What is it about Haiti that keeps philanthropists and investors alike coming back? One year after the devastating earthquake, Haiti still captivates the interest of many in the United States.  Outside of Hurricane Katrina, this is rare for disasters. 

An Unconventional Disaster Response

Disaster Advice Column: Actions for Small Business Owners After a Disaster



A question about business recovery after disasters came into the Help Desk last spring. The caller stated, "I need to know what resources are available to assist me after the [Tennessee] flood as I've been cleaning mud out of my restaurant all day. I was so exhausted and went to bed, but couldn't sleep as I'm afraid I'm going to have to close my business. Who can help – what can I do? I had to get up and call you."

Survive. Sustain. Succeed.


Survive, Sustain, Succeed. This phrase, which is the motto of the Alabama Gulf Coast Coastal Resiliency Coalition (CRC), sums up what the Chamber BCLC saw in Alabama on October 27, 2010. 

On that day, BCLC led a second corporate delegation trip to the Gulf to determine how companies can continue to be involved in an oil spill recovery that is ongoing.  This blog is what our team saw from my perspective.


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