Donating face masks and money for relief funds. Feeding hungry students no longer in school. Tipping workers in essential jobs. Acts of kindness are appreciated, and necessary, now more than ever in our COVID-19 pandemic world.

The beauty of acts of kindness is that they inspire more kindness. We are all in this together. Because of that, we are learning to be patient. Everyone is practicing compassion and care for one another. Most of these acts are rather unexpected, too, which is the joy in receiving them. It’s a remarkable domino effect that spills over to everyone else, in and out of small business.

1. Giving impacted businesses free advice.

“Many businesses affected and hurting from coronavirus need help, but they don’t know how or where to find it. Why not have our members volunteer to provide free advice to those who are in need?

Over 100 members of Umbrex, a global community of top tier business consultants, are volunteering their time and experience to provide free help and advice for businesses that are in trouble. We created a pandemic task force made up of volunteer members who are offering free advice for owners and managers of bars, restaurants, theater groups, cultural institutions, yoga studios, nail salons, gyms, and other organizations that have been impacted or shut down by the pandemic.

So far, over 100 Umbrex members have offered their experience and time to provide free advice and coach business owners affected either online or over the phone.

Additionally, Umbrex is providing a free playbook for the owners of small businesses and directors of non-profits affected by COVID-19. Our volunteer consultants are offering advice on subjects including finances, how to communicate with employees, how to project cash flow during the crisis, navigate and obtain loans or grants, and conserve cash. We are also offering tips on how to protect data as well as physical assets, communicate with customers, and work from home effectively where feasible.” — Will Bachman, Co-Founder, Umbrex 

2. Hosting virtual science classes.

“With aquariums being forced to close their doors, I’m using my platform of over 350k members to spotlight aquariums via virtual science classes. I have more scheduled with Aquarium of the Pacific, New York Aquarium, and more. We raised over $3,200 for a GoFundMe that Aquarium of the Bay promoted during our class. The animals still gotta eat and be taken care of!” — Warren Carlyle, Founder, OctoNation The Largest Octopus Fan Club, a 501(c)3 Nonprofit Organization.

3. No customers have asked us for refunds.

“Mine is an event driven business. Nobody has asked for refunds for future events. I’m thankful for everyone’s generosity at this time. There is a resounding, ‘we will get through this and celebrate on the other side!’

I’ve pivoted to a series of virtual workshops with my speakers. Women are buying tickets to support me. My business is also membership-driven. In turn, I have kept my membership going at my women’s co-work space. I’m a membership-based business. I know how important that recurring venue is.” — Joya Dass, Founder, LadyDrinks

4. Donating to relief funds.

“We are currently donating 10% of daily sales to feed healthcare workers around the country. Monday March 23rd was our first day. We donated to the Tampa General Covid 19 fund per their request.” — Aaron Behar, CEO, MMOGolf.com

5. Delivering care packages in support of the military, veterans, and first responders.

“I’m the CEO of Operation Gratitude, the largest and most impactful nonprofit in the country for hands-on volunteerism in support of Military, Veterans, and First Responders. Since 2003, Operation Gratitude has delivered more than 2.5 Million Care Packages. This provides opportunities for countless Americans to say thank you to those who serve, forging strong bonds between the civilian-service community.

Our response to COVID-19 is a call to action for #VirtualVolunteerism. It’s so important to practice small acts of kindness wherever we can during challenging times. We’re giving back to our troops and first responders remotely through three acts of kindness.

1) Handmade with love items. There is something about receiving a handmade item that warms the heart. Those who can knit, crochet, or sew, are being called on by our team to get out their needles and hooks during this crisis. Crafty folks are hand-making greeting cards so our deployed troops can write to their loved ones back home. Every handmade with love item is an expression of deep appreciation for the service and sacrifice of our recipients.

2) Making paracord bracelets. We include handmade paracord bracelets in every one of our care packages because they’re functional and meaningful. We’re encouraging our volunteers to make these items from home so we can continue to send care packages to those overseas during this crisis.

3) Write letters. We hear time and again that handwritten letters are the most cherished items in our care packages. Our volunteers are being encouraged to write these letters to our deployed troops and first responders in order to be a beacon of hope and gratitude during these trying times. This is a great activity for volunteers of all ages, so we encourage anyone who can to write them.” — Kevin Schniegel, CEO, Operation Gratitude

6. Donating thousands of face masks to hospitals.

“Our company recently purchased a machine to manufacture candy from China. The company that manufactured our machine in China began manufacturing face masks once they learned of the shortage in the United States. Recently, we received thousands of face masks from our machine manufacturer in China to distribute to our local community and hospitals.” — Keeon Yazdani Chief Marketing Officer WE R CBD

7. Sharing links to government entities that offer relief.

“Our company connects startups with sources of funding and business advisory services to help extend said funding. On our social media channels, we are posting links to government entities and funding sources offering assistance and relief to businesses facing adverse effects from the COVID-19 slowdown, such as small business loans from the U.S. SBA and from NYC SBS.

In addition, we are posting service journalism articles featuring this information. For example, on our LinkedIn page we included a link to a legal document for small businesses that helps outline telework requirements both from hours worked as well as any liability issues that might come up. We are in the process of assembling a compendium of these sources and outlets to include on both our website and in an e-mail newsletter.” — Anne Szustek Talbot, VP of Content Marketing, BX3

8. Taking care of remote workers.

“My company employs 12 individuals in addition to my business partner and exceeded $5 million in revenue last year. We’ve taken multiple steps to ensure our employees remain safe, healthy and happy during this unusual time.

We sent all of our employees home to work remotely for the foreseeable future. In addition to this step, we’ve also taken other measures. For example, we purchased and shipped hand sanitizer and other cleaning supplies to each of our employees to ensure their home work environments are clean and sanitary.

Further, we purchased $100 gift cards to grocery stores for our employees and provided instructions on how to order food online*. That way they don’t have to leave their homes in order to go grocery shopping. We want to minimize the time our employees spend outside their homes as much as possible.” — Matthew Ross, Co-Founder and COO, The Slumber Yard 

9. Teaching others.

“During COVID-19, I have had a lot of free time to connect with others. I have been reaching out and mentoring different college students that have tech startups and that might need help strengthening their business strategy or marketing. I enjoy giving back to the next generation, glad they can use my knowledge and resources to amplify their goals. Hoping they pass it on to others once they get in my position.” — Chynna Morgan, CEO and Founder, GIF Out Loud

10. Starting a GoFundMe campaign.

“We are a premium gluten-free potato vodka brand that gives a portion of every sale to animal-related charities. As a small Idaho company, we are trying to do our part to assist our local financial crisis by starting a GoFundMe campaign to help the immediate need in our valley for service industry worker relief. Our small community has the most amounts of cases per capita in the state of Idaho. We are on self-isolation. All non-essential businesses are under mandatory closure.

Many people forget that servers and bartenders rely heavily on tips, which are unaccounted for when claiming unemployment (and in some cases might not qualify for unemployment). That’s why we knew we needed to step in to help get immediate relief to people in our community. We are doing our part to help and we are already making an impact. We are very proud!” — Katherine Cullen, CEO, Party Animal Potato Vodka

11. Feeding local communities and food banks.

“With bread and many other items flying off grocery store shelves, Great Harvest business owners have the capacity to bake as much bread as needed to serve the needs of communities and flexibility to control the amount available.

Great Harvest franchisees are known for giving generously. They aid local food banks and other non-profit organizations regularly. Owners and locals within communities are teaming up to ensure no food bank or children out-of-school are without necessities.

In Warrenton, Virginia, a customer called in and paid $700 to bake bread for the local food bank. The food bank needs 40+ loafs a day and the bakery and its community has been pouring donations into the Fauquier Community Food Bank. The bakery is baking 20 percent more bread than each donation.

In Maple Grove, Minnesota, the owner has pledged to offer free breads and goodie bags to those families in need during the school closures. No purchase necessary, no questions asked and no judgment pass. Staff are also volunteering to do home delivery for the elderly. And for anyone who can’t stop by the bakery, they donate twice a week to CROSS (Food Shelf) in Roger.

In Cary, North Carolina, owner Paige and Tom Williams posted on social media a way to purchase an extra loaf of Whole Grain Sandwich Bread through their website and the loaf would be donated to Dorcas Food Pantry. The response has been overwhelming. Over 200 loaves for fresh baked, all-natural whole grain, Honey Whole Wheat bread will be donated to local neighbors in need. They will continue to keep the donation purchase on their website through these unsettling times, so that the community can help one another.

Breaking bread has always brought people together – even when we’re not gathered at the same table.” — Mike Ferretti, CEO, Great Harvest Bread Company

12. Netflix and I pay the bill for my employees.

“All our staff is working remote. There are 11 of us, so I bought 4 full Netflix accounts so they could all be entertained during their off time. Each day, one of us picks a comedy series. We all sit down to watch it at the same time while messaging on Whatsapp group on our phones.

It costs me less than $50 a month, but it keeps all the staff in touch with each other and we muddle through this crisis together, keeping morale levels up.” Brett Downes, Founder, Haro Helpers

13. Contact cards for the elderly.

Having been inspired by a few people, our business has pledged to drop contact cards around the elderly homes nearby our office, offering to pick up essentials for them, it being optional if they need to pay. Each member of staff will be paying out of their own pocket — their idea — and I will be replenishing what they spent with an end of year bonus.” — Michael Lowe, CEO, Car Passionate

14. Receiving messages from employees.

“I run a multimedia company called Mattress Battle, which is a company I created two years ago while I was battling insomnia and depression developed from work. I have virtual assistants overseas. Receiving messages from them asking how things are going on this side of the world during COVID-19 may not be as grand, but knowing they care is a gesture I treasure. It’s those little random acts of kindness that matter. You don’t expect to have a strong pull at your heartstrings but do.” — Mason Culligan, Founder and CEO, Mattress Battle Inc.

15. Patience and understanding from customers.


“I am the owner of a small E-commerce business. Within the past several weeks, we have been experiencing shipment delays due to global supply chain disruptions. As a result, we have been prioritizing communication and complete transparency with our customers, to ensure they are informed and aware of delays regarding their orders’ delivery times.

This experience has been very stressful. We are essentially in the dark — uncertain of when our shipments will arrive and when we can ship our orders to our customers. Additionally, we always aim to maintain positive customer relations. This vagueness has the potential of jeopardizing our client relationships.

As orders have been delayed considerably, we were expecting warranted frustration from our clientele. However, we have received favorable and positive responses from all our customers. They express new levels of patience, understanding, and compassion during these unprecedented times. Many convey satisfaction with their orders arriving behind schedule. Additionally, some customers are refusing refunds. They are requesting coupons as an alternative to continue showing support for our business. Like one customer stated, ‘Times are tough and I’m not looking to strip money that’s needed.’

As a business, we are relieved and grateful for the understanding expressed by our customers. As people behind a corporate desk, we are truly touched by the sincere empathy displayed by our fellow human beings during these trying times.” — Bill Joseph, CEO, Frontier Blades

16. Allowing medical staff to use our storage facilities.

“I work for Stasher, the ‘Airbnb of luggage storage’. We’d just raised $2.5 million and our founder was just announced among the Forbes 30 under 30 nominees. Then,COVID-19 broke out across Europe. Our sales went off a cliff-edge and our founders are now taking a 50% pay cut, and employees are being voluntarily dropping down to 4-day weeks for the foreseeable future.

With sales expected to be v-low for months, we’re turning our eyes to how we can help our community with support through articles and investigating how we can use our network (storage) to potentially store medical supplies or offer medical staff free access to leave belongings.

We’ve seen our customers support us and wanted to share this really uplifting comment from one of our customers. A customer with a large order (supposed to be traveling from the United States to London) sent the following message:

‘I have a reservation for 3-15 April at the Terminal 4 Premier Inn… not surprisingly will not be coming from the U.S. then. Don’t know if you issue refunds or not, but as I am sure your business has been negatively affected by ongoing events am not requesting one. God bless you and stay safe!’” — Joel Sanders, Marketing & PR Associate, Stasher

17. Kind words of support from customers.

“We’ve seen a tremendous outpouring of support from our clients who had vacations booked with us already, with the vast majority choosing to move their travels rather than to cancel. Some are even booking future trips far in advance as a kind gesture of their confidence and support.

During these difficult times for the travel industry, considerate gestures like this are incredibly kind. The generous words of thanks and support which come with them inspire us to do what we love so much – creating dream vacations for our wonderful clients.” — George Hammerton, Director, Hammerton Barbados

18. Small businesses “lending staff” to other small businesses.

“Just the other day, I was at my chiropractor. The place was empty, which was kind of surprising because this particular chiropractor isn’t limited to just cracking backs. He also offers nutritional assistance and other services you can do while safely practicing social distancing. Turns out, he’s unfortunately had to scale back from 12 staff to just two, one of whom is an office manager that’s been with him for over 30 years.

I asked her, ‘Have you guys been emailing your customers to let them know you’re still open and offering these other services?’ And she says some of them, yes. Then she tells me that she’s been working on digitizing their paper files for years. Their patient database is about 10,000. They only have 773 emails entered into a digital database that makes it easy to send emails. My business, PostcardMania, serves small businesses like this chiropractor that is suffering and has had to lay people off.

I offered some of my staff to help her enter these emails for two hours a day until it’s done. Hopefully, they’ll have it wrapped up quickly. Then, this business can start emailing patients again and bringing them back in for appointments. It’s so important that the entire small business community comes together and helps each other where we can during these challenging times.” — Joy Gendusa, Founder & CEO, PostcardMania

19. Feeding students.

“With hundreds of schools closing across the country, student hunger is the collateral damage that many aren’t talking about, but nearly 22 million low-income students may not have the same luxury. We are working alongside Arlington Public Schools (APS) to provide fresh fruit to children in the community who may be suffering due to lack of regular school lunches.

APS has initiated a Grab-n-Go emergency lunch program for low-income students who depend on school meals. Partnering with Arlington’s Bayou Bakery and Real Food for Kids, our nonprofit, Fruitful Planet, is also contributing pounds of fresh produce daily to children in need.” — Amir Mostafavi, Founder and CEO, South Block

20. Donations for hospital equipment.

“Lithuania’s IT companies, including our own, banded together to provide our hospitals with over 300 thousand euros worth of equipment and other vital items. We want to make sure we all get through this COVID-19 crisis and come out stronger than before.” — Giedrius Zakaitis, CEO, Zyro

21. Client understanding.

“Marketing cost is often the first thing that pops up in the entrepreneur’s mind when they think about savings during a crisis. We are a marketing agency. I started feeling the impact of the crisis at the very early stage of the pandemic. The big surprise came from a few of our long-term clients. They knew our situation and deliberately increased the percentage of pre-payment for March services. Actions like these keep my confidence that we will pass through the hard times supporting each other with minimum losses.” — Illia Termeno, Director, Extrabrains! marketing agency

22. Feeding school students.

“Our business has partnered with Real Food for Kids to serve a complete free, grab-and-go lunch to in need Arlington County children and their families during the closure of the school district. Every weekday until schools reopen, between 11:00 AM – 1:00 PM, we are cooking vegetarian meals to be compatible with a broad range of dietary and religious restrictions distribution. We have now expanded to serve military families living in Arlington, Virginia. Our team has received heartfelt comments that cheerlead and champion our mission. The outreach and support has been unbelievable.” — David Guas, Chef and Owner, Bayou Bakery, Coffee Bar & Eatery

23. Creating COVID-19 survival guides.

“My firm has decided to spend 40% of our time on pro bono services exclusively for small businesses during this crisis. We’ve put together a ‘Coronoavirus Crisis Survival Guide‘ and have been hosting weekly small business advisory sessions over zoom for free. The guide is designed to provide small and mid-sized businesses with real, actionable advice to manage costs during this period of unparalleled uncertainty. The advisory sessions are a time to answer questions small business owners might have.

We come from big business backgrounds. However, we have friends and family members running small businesses that we hope will benefit from this information.” — Charles Gunn, Co-Founder, The NiVACK Group

24. Tipping essential workers.

“Recently after picking up a $3 cup of coffee from one of the three places still open, I tipped my barista a $20 and a very sincere thank you. Her smile told me everything I needed to know. Everyone is wondering if they will have a job tomorrow and little things like a tip and a look into the eye can let someone know that they are seen and valued. I think this is the greatest kindness – letting someone else know that they matter, they are seen, and they are valued. We are all in this together.” — Matt Erickson, Marketing Director, National Positions

We’re here for small businesses. Use the coupon code FREEEIN for a free EIN tax ID filing with mycorporation.com.

Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this piece. One small bit of advice; when you say “the” elderly (or “the” homeless or “the” disabled) it separates them from us. It makes them less a part of humanity. “We made calls to our seniors in Dist 2 to ensure they were not having food access issues.” Sounds and feels very different from “We made calls to the elderly.” It’s a subtle but important way of separating vs including.

  2. I own a small animal hospital on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state. Early on, I decided that none of my staff would lose hours unless I had to close the hospital. We began a fund to raise money specifically for the purchase of dog and cat food for our local food bank clienteles pets. Our goal is $5000.00 and in one month we have raised $4000. Our Purina and Hills reps have given us free food and discounted food four our purchases. Our pledge is that no dog or cat in our county will go hungry during the pandemic. Pets are enormously important to everyones well being. Ensuring their nutritional needs are met gives everyone a good feeling.
    When we have reached our goal, we will begin making masks to give to our clients and their friends/neighbors. Never enough masks.

  3. That’s an amazing item to include with your employee package, Barbara. It’s so important to give to and support your staff during this time. Thank you for reading!

  4. Great information. I am a solo law firm doing Family Law, an S-Corp. We send out weekly updates to our clients with what is happening at the court. Clients are concerned about their matters, understandably. They are grateful for the updates every step along the way. To keep my staff motivated (one working from home and one in the office with me), I gave them ID Theft Protection as part of the employee package, paid for by the firm, sending flowers with thank you notes for their hard work, acknowledging their above and beyond efforts, provide chiropractic treatments paid for by the firm to relieve their stress. Give to your staff and acknowledge them, it will reward you in unmeasurable ways that you cannot imagine that includes phenomenal loyalty.

  5. Truly an inspirational and motivational article. It’s amazing to see how businesses and customers are coming together in ways we couldn’t have imagined. These examples really showcase how our relationships go beyond the transactional process. Thank you for including me, and for sharing these heartwarming anecdotes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *