Corporate Social Responsibility: How Wholesalers Can Play their Part in Disaster Management and Relief

The Australian bushfires have caused immense destruction and devastation since July 2019, leading to a loss of habitats, wildlife, human life and infrastructure. Homes, workplaces, farmland have all been destroyed in these flames and the economic cost of this is expected to exceed $4.4 billion.

The economy has taken a hit overall, with over $375 million filed in insurance claims from the business sector alone, but some industries like agriculture and tourism have been expected to be more affected than others.   

The Australian government has pledged $2 billion, and around $115 million and counting have poured in as philanthropists, celebrities, organisations and businesses the world over continue to donate. Local businesses and citizens have also taken on the role of providing relief supplies, donating money towards rescue efforts and offering services and products that might be of use to victims and volunteers.

This is not an uncommon form of help; corporate social responsibility is and has been popular for a long time. It’s important now than ever because climate change and environmental degradation have accelerated the number of disasters that take place each year.

Understanding CSR

CSR is a self-regulating business model that allows companies of different types to hold themselves accountable, make their work valuable and establish a political or social identity for stakeholders, employees, clients and the general public.

It’s one of the most effective ways for businesses to give back to their communities or causes that matter to them, allowing them to have clear-cut goals, ethics and models according to which they operate. For instance, businesses that are committing to provide a certain wage rate, or sourcing their raw materials through fair trade, or donating to charities and non-profits they wish to support.

It also improves PR and allows businesses to market their CSR initiatives, allowing them to connect with stakeholders and the general public on a deeper level. Even as a wholesaler or supplier, the CSR work you do can benefit you when connecting with your retail clients.

Even though it’s more common to see retailers and corporations such as multinationals launch CSR projects and endeavours, at a time like this, when the bushfires have wiped out one billion animals, thousands of homes, impacted agriculture and left the nation broken, even wholesalers can play their part.

There are several ways to go about assisting with disaster management, relief and aid that will reach affected groups. Whether it’s for animals, rebuilding homes or rehabilitating the people who lost their businesses through monetary support, or making use of your own resources to help out, there are different ways to go about this.

1. Offer to donate a portion of profits

The simplest thing that a business, no matter what the industry is, can do is to extend monetary support. Philanthropic efforts by businesses have long been a way of compensating for their social impact and benefiting from tax reductions and more.

Individuals and large corporations often have the resources and profit margins to donate large amounts of money, but any business can step up and do their part. As wholesalers, you can adjust pricing to generate an amount for the cause of your choice, informing or alerting customers about your efforts and focusing on specific industries affected by the crisis.

Encourage sales and purchases by alerting your clients of special offers, pricing and introducing limited-time products that will be used for this, if not across the board. Use OrderTron’s special pricing offers to connect with clients who might be willing to engage or contribute to the cause.

2. Work with retailers engaged in CSR efforts

If you lack the ability to donate proceeds on your own or can’t find a suitable model, it’s possible to pair up with retail clients already engaged in CSR efforts. You can do so depending on your particular service or product, speciality, or theirs.

For instance, a local cafe that’s fundraising for a non-profit or a cause like the bushfires through a bake sale, you can offer them discounted rates on eggs and milk. It’s a matter of finding what works with you as a business. If you’re unable to offer discounts and lower rates, you can pledge to provide ethically sourced food supplies that help local businesses and economies grow.

This means retailers take on a chunk of the work, having greater social capital and access to the public, while you lend support in your own way. It’s a model that’s beneficial to stakeholders across the supply chain. From suppliers finding a chance to stabilise the business in the wake of destruction, to wholesalers incentivising and supporting retailers, who work with the public, it’s a win-win all around.

3. Source locally to sustain businesses

Local businesses take a massive hit when any sort of natural or manmade disaster occurs. As a supplier, your interests may lie in finding cheaper import options, but for a dedicated CSR model you can easily support local businesses through your work.

Switching from cheaper, randomly sourced produce, to ethically sourced, fair-trade, organic produce that comes from local farmland and agricultural lands, local producers can all contribute to the local economy. It’s more transparent and rates are likely to be in accordance with local averages.

It may not be the most economical strategy for you in the short-term, but once your company builds a reputation for this, you’re likely to receive positive publicity and marketable content. Through this, you can connect with more retailers or branch out to those whose values align with yours.

4. Offer warehouse and storage space for relief goods

In times of extreme crises and disasters, wholesalers can make a major contribution to relief efforts by offering their warehousing and storage spaces. It’s difficult to anticipate when or where a major disaster will take place, but one of the smartest ways is by preparing in advance.

If issues have been persistent, or relief efforts are being made, it can be difficult to store and transport goods to and from the affected area repeatedly. Many wholesalers have their own warehouses and stores, which can be used for donations. In-house transport can also be offered for delivering aid and supplies to disaster sites, camps and community centres.

Contact local organisations to learn more about their relief efforts and if your warehousing facilities are near any sites and if you have space, offer it.

5. Use deadstock as donations

Deadstock is a problem for many wholesalers, especially those not using order management system software like OrderTron. Having excessive stock in storage is your money tied up in something that’s not being used, which is why if you’re dealing with some, donate it!

Especially for perishable foods that aren’t being shipped, you’re better off sending them to sites and causes that will benefit from them. Shelters, orphanages, relief camps, immigrant camps or even animal shelters and sanctuaries that can use various meats, vegetables and dairy products are all great options. Instead of keeping it in storage for unnecessarily long periods of time, waiting to slash prices or for orders to come along, you can offer it to drives and collections for foodstuff, grains, etc.

If there’s a particular area that’s affected, see if a collective effort can be made with others in the industry, retailers, or even suppliers looking to donate. You’re likely to have resources like in-house transport, or a contract carrier who can complete the delivery. Take the opportunity to step up and offer transportation for other supplies, if you’re unable to give supplies.

6. Long-term commitments and changes

Sustainable effort and decisions to change are also the way forward, not just for momentary disaster relief, but for long-term CSR as well. Committing to using greener alternatives, ethically sourced supplies, fair wages and benefits to workers are some ways to do this.

In addition to that, you can also commit to cutting out harmful chemicals, packaging, smarter energy consumption, cutting down on use of non-renewable fuel sources and introducing eco-friendly alternatives to the products you offer.

It’s important for businesses to be on board with real and significant changes, proposing ways to make their models more eco-friendly and sustainable. Meeting with local counsellors, change-makers, non-profits and relief efforts, consulting with and following policies and recommendations suggested by climate activists and experts are some options.

Wholesalers are only a part of the total supply chain, but an important cog in the wheel regardless. We’re at a particularly delicate point in time, with an ongoing climate emergency taking place in the country.

If, before this point, you haven’t undertaken CSR efforts, you can participate in them now. Donate to the Australian bushfires and work with organisations like the Red Cross, WWF or donate to fire-fighters.

Invest in OrderTron and benefit from the advantages it offers to wholesalers, for flexible pricing, faster order processing and management. Connect with your suppliers, retailers, or even organisations engaged in relief work by taking them on as clients. You can learn more on our website and understand the various other benefits of a wholesale food distribution service.

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