Kicking In and helping out

When people mistake your Web design site for a Katrina relief site, what do you do? Most people would probably just put up a big disclaimer that the site is not about disaster relief….especially if we’re talking about a corporate site.

But when Katrina Blankenship start receiving calls and emails and hits on her katrina.com site, she decided that a disclaimer wasn’t what was needed – she needed to apply her skills and donate her site to disaster relief.

"I got a phone call from somebody in Memphis Sunday, telling me they were looking for the hurricane’s projected path," Blankenship said by phone Thursday. "She asked me if I knew anything about it. I told her, ‘I live in Virginia, how would I know?’ "

But the phone calls didn’t stop there, and when Hurricane Katrina left its devastation along the Gulf Coast, Blankenship knew she could put the site to better use.

"I said OK, this is what I have the talent to do," she said. "I posted as much information as I could, and by Tuesday, the phone calls were pouring in … people asking me if I could post about a family member missing. For every 10 I posted, 20 more came in."

And she’s continuing to work on the site, this wasn’t a one shot deal –

To keep up with the demand for information, Blankenship created a message board, which now has hundreds of posts in just the past few days, many that begin with "missing family," "I’m looking for my son," or simply, "I can help."

"I’m a long ways away," Blankenship said. "I can give money or food … but I have a chance to allow people to connect. What did God leave us here for if not to help other people?"

Imagine if katrina.com was owned by a corporation and not an individual. What do you think the reaction would have been? Do you think they’d have given up their front page real estate? Turned over the site to internal employee volunteers to post this kind of information?

Probably not in most cases. But imagine the postive employee spirit that could have been generated if employees throughout the company knew that they worked for a company good enough to do something like that. Imagine if the company’s clients hit the home page and discovered this instead of the cold corporatespeak they were used to? Imagine the media stories (like the one linked above) that would have been generated. Overall, imagine the increase in business, client appreciation, and company morale that would have come out of doing the right thing.

Far too many companies would have simply declined to help because of the liability involved, or any number of other reasons. The truly great companies wouldn’t have cared about any of these reasons.