Disaster-related corporate volunteering

Disaster-related corporate volunteering

Hector Mujica, Google (US)
Harry Wilson, UPS (Belgium)
Karin Reiter, Zurich Insurance (Switzerland)
Özgür Erdem Uzun, GSK (Turkey)

Moderator: Lorrie Foster, IAVE (US)

Best practices and lessons learned in disaster related corporate volunteering include focusing on the essence of your company’s business to decide on volunteering projects as Zurich Insurance did by focusing on flood resilience.  Companies find that when skilled volunteers are required it is useful to work with the HR department to help select employees.  Another effective approach is directly inviting specific employees to volunteer because their skills are required in the response.  This approach creates excitement and visibility around the volunteer effort.

The panel also felt that it was important to allow a grassroots response to disasters, allowing employees to respond with” hands and heart”.  GSK Turkey’s programs fit in this category.  Google utilizes both engineers to develop technical tools and enables employees to respond in person to certain disasters through the organization All Hands. Another way to channel the “CNN moment” is to launch employee-giving campaigns right away, and follow-up the company investment of funds and volunteers in the long-term recovery phase where action is often most needed and frequently neglected.

All four companies stressed the importance of working with local NGOs (for local knowledge and nuance), in addition to multinational NGOs (in order to establish credibility).

Encouragingly, companies are beginning to work with others in their industry and beyond to prepare for and respond to disasters.  Google and Microsoft are starting to collaborate in some instances with technology tools, UPS and its logistics competitors work together to respond to disasters, and the global insurance providers are discussing ways to work together as well.

Prepared by Lorrie Foster, Moderator


Presentation by 
Özgür Erdem Uzun, GSK

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ÖZGÜR ERDEM UZUN is the Patient Relations and Brand Communications Executive in GSK Turkey. He has 2 years of experience working in the patient relations field within the pharmaceuticals industry. He also has experience in brand communications, corporate communications, social responsibility, relationship management with NGOs and crisis communications fields.

HARRY WILSON is the Europe Region Compensation and Benefits Manager for UPS. Harry began working with UPS in 1988 as a part time Loader/Un-loader and has since moved up to hold multiple positions in Human Resources. Prior to his position as the Compensations and Benefits Manager, he was the Director of HR for UPS’s Mid-South District. 

HECTOR MUJICA is a Social Responsibility Program Manager at Google. He manages Googler philanthropic engagement for various regions of the United States and Latin America, as well as an array of other philanthropic initiatives and programs. Hector is also the portfolio lead for disaster relief within the GooglersGive team.

KARIN REITER is the Group Corporate Responsibility Manager and the Manager of Z Zurich Foundation at Zurich Insurance Company Ltd. She leads the development and implementation of a best practice Group community investment (CI) strategy as well as the operational management of Z Zurich Foundation.


LORRIE FOSTER is an independent consultant specializing in corporate-non-profit partnerships, strategic planning and transition leadership. She is currently the Facilitator for IAVE’s Research Working Group on Disaster Response and the Director of IAVE’s Global Corporate Volunteer Council. Prior to joining IAVE she was the Vice President of Council at the Conference Board.