In the late summer and fall of 2012, UPS volunteers jumped in to help affected families return to their homes as quickly as possible after both Hurricane Isaac and Hurricane Sandy. But the connection between the company and those in need goes well beyond hammers, nails, paint—and even funding.

UPS has a rich history of partnering with nonprofits and impacting communities by providing both grants and expertise. Following Hurricane Sandy, for example, UPS donated $250,000 in logistical aid for urgent response, $250,000 to the American Red Cross to meet sheltering needs of those affected, and another $1 million in cash and in-kind support to relief organizations for long-term recovery.

But before Sandy made landfall, Isaac had offered its own opportunities. Consider St. Bernard Project (SBP), for example, a New Orleans organization still working to return homeowners to their properties from Hurricane Katrina—much less Isaac. Assistance from UPS went beyond cash. Through the UPS Executive Loan program, SBP also received six months’ worth of guidance and insight from an embedded UPS supervisor. That expert, Jim Desormeaux, helped SBP improve and standardize the organization’s logistics and warehouse system in a manner that SBP calls “revolutionary.”

SBP already had been working to streamline the process of rebuilding homes post-disaster, cutting down on red tape and maximizing efficiencies. Strategic partnerships with UPS and others—such as Toyota Motor Corporation and GlaxoSmithKline—have helped the organization shave that time down to 61 days from 116. Each company has brought its own version of best practices—and SBP, as a result, has become known for best practices of its own.

“We think the best partnerships with corporations involve both dollars and sense,” says Zack Rosenburg, who founded SBP in 2006 with Liz McCartney. And those partnerships have led to a “really lean machine,” helping vulnerable populations overcome numerous barriers to getting back home. “What UPS has done for us is invaluable and incalculable,” Rosenburg says, because of the ability to replicate processes for other disaster-affected areas beyond New Orleans. SBP’s Disaster Recovery Lab is a scalable version of the New Orleans model, complete with a playbook, documentation and on-the-ground support. Joplin, Mo., has been the first to benefit so far. “We’re not proprietary with our processes and plans and models…. We’re in the business of making an impact, not building our brand.”

Effective Response for Global Emergencies

The partnership with SBP, however, is just a portion of the UPS story. In 2009, UPS and The UPS Foundation launched a multi-year effort to provide financial grants, in-kind services, and logistics expertise to organizations such as the American Red Cross, UNICEF, the World Food Programme, CARE, and the Aidmatrix Foundation. Most of these organizations are known for their disaster assistance and general relief, but Aidmatrix works behind the scenes on supply chain management for nonprofits.

UPS and The UPS Foundation committed $9 million over a two-year period to enhance an effective response to global emergencies. The company made the announcement at the Clinton Global Initiative’s 2009 Annual Meeting, where it was recognized for its CGI “Commitment to Action.”

The donations included:

  • A $500,000 cash and in-kind donation to enable the American Red Cross to position supplies strategically so that it can respond more effectively. The grant provides logistics, shipping, and warehouse support.
  • A two-year, $1 million commitment to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. The grant provides support for UNICEF’s disaster preparedness program in the Asia-Pacific region, where UNICEF works with 580 million children.
  • A $250,000 grant to CARE to use the Aidmatrix technology so that it can track relief supplies and hire a logistics professional to manage CARE’s supply chain. The grant also includes use of UPS logistics experts during the implementation of the improvements.
  • An expansion of UPS’s relationship with the World Food Programme’s Logistics Emergency Teams (LETs) initiative. LETs deploy within 48-72 hours of a disaster and stay for three to six weeks in the aftermath of a disaster. Some 20 UPS employees were trained and available globally as LETs responders.
  • A $250,000 grant to Aidmatrix to expand and an additional $250,000 in donated transportation.
  • A $50,000 grant to Safe America to continue encouraging families to conduct disaster and emergency drills.

Sharing Supply Chain Management Success

In the case of Aidmatrix, Michael Ross, global CIO and vice president, delivery, says UPS has helped the organization “grow and mature,” in addition to providing “a wealth of subject matter expertise.” UPS also has been a great asset in helping Aidmatrix forge other strategic partnerships, he says, “and we would be a different organization without them.”

UPS helped found Aidmatrix’s International Transportation Program, which enables relief organizations to access free and discounted transportation services. But UPS also has supported Aidmatrix’s SCM4Good platform, an integrated supply chain management and logistics software solution for NGOs.

“What we really love about UPS is that they’re building capacity of not just one organization, but of the entire community,” says Melis Jones, Aidmatrix vice president, programs. “Just because we have a different tax status doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to run world-class tools. It’s been a great partnership.”

Targeted Grants and Long-Standing Alliances

Since 1951, The UPS Foundation has focused its resources on programs that support safety, nonprofit effectiveness, economic and global literacy, environmental sustainability, and diversity.

By targeting grants to improve logistics efficiencies in a time of a disaster, UPS can apply the expertise that it has developed in its business practices. Each day, the company delivers 15 million packages in 220 countries. This focus also allows UPS to network organizations that it has encountered through the years and allow for a streamlining of operational efficiency during a large-scale disaster.

These grants come as The UPS Foundation has shifted its giving strategy; the foundation no longer accepts unsolicited funding requests. It receives proposals only from those organizations that align with the giving strategy, and that have been identified through long-standing partnerships, employee engagement, or internal research. Regions and districts manage local needs by involving employee Community Involvement Committees that create year-round spending plans.

The disaster logistics grants had broad-reaching results:

  • 18,000 people receive delivery aid because of improved efficiencies with Aidmatrix’s transportation platform;
  • 75,900 people were served by the American Red Cross through the financial support of UPS; and
  • 2 million received food aid as a result of improvements to CARE’s regional and local supply chain for food distribution. CARE saved $2-3 million annually in operational expenses.

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