At last month’s AD meeting (our observations here) Bill Weisberg announced the launch of the AD Disaster Relief Foundation. While the timing was serendipitous given the recent tragedies in Houston, Florida, the Virgin Islands, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Mexico and now California with the wildfires, the concept was in discussion for over a year due to floods in West Virginia and the Houston / Lake Charles area and was a concept driven by the membership who sought ways to provide “help”.
It’s not that distributor owners were soliciting support. After all, there is insurance and many have other resources. The issue is more taking care of their people, which can be a much bigger and longer-term issue for companies and one that individual distributors frequently would be challenged to address.
And as Bill pointed out in his announcement, a key issue is targeting resources to individuals. While the foundation today is more financial in nature, expansion into non-financial resources (i.e. electrical equipment / “in-kind” donations) can be more important.
The AD Disaster Relief Foundation is a new 501(c)(3) entity that enables the AD community to support one another’s people when natural or man-made disasters strike.
Bill Weisberg AD’s Chairman and CEO announced the new Foundation at the 2017 AD North American Meeting keynote address, “When one of our members or suppliers is going through a major hardship or disaster in their company and community, there are many of us who would like to help. But oftentimes we don’t know how or whom to help. It’s in this spirit, and to solve this problem, that we’ve created the AD Disaster Relief Foundation.”
Donors to the AD Disaster Relief Foundation will be able to give monetary support to the specific Member and Supplier companies they choose and receive receipts for tax purposes. The Foundation is also working towards donors being able to provide in-kind donations (i.e., building materials, generators, cleaning supplies etc.) and receive tax deductions for those as well. Weisberg’s family is funding 100% of the operational and administrative costs of the Foundation so that 100% of all donations go directly to the people in AD member and supplier companies that need it.
Weisberg continued, “When we started this project in January we had no way to know that there would be so many terrible disasters impacting our Members and Suppliers this year. So we have accelerated the rollout of the project to help people. In just under two weeks the Foundation has already received a dozen grant applications from the AD Members and Suppliers who have people who lost their homes and property due to Hurricanes Maria and Harvey.
Weisberg concluded his keynote address with a call to action, “There are a lot of people in this world with serious needs. And we can’t help them all. But we can help at least some of them recover some of their losses. We can help at least some of the people who work at our own company – and the companies of our friends and customers. And if we can, well then we should. AD’s tagline is: Together, we win. But together we also hurt. And so together, we help.”
And, in some instances, this can be additional support for individuals who need help as some manufacturers also have non-profit foundations (but we don’t know if for their employees or for outside donations…it probably changes by company.)
Supporting members of the community, in this case the “AD community” is the right things to do. The Foundation is open for donations (don’t know if it accepts donations from non-AD distributors and manufacturers) but it is already evaluating and acting upon grant requests. 30 individuals have already applied. Applying for a grant is as simple as it requires a 2 page online form. Hopefully AD member company principals and their HR departments will remember to utilize this service when needed to support their people.
Congrats to AD to responding to a unique membership request from some thought-provoking individuals and coming up with a creative, generous, solution that is unique within the industry.