“This grant was a ray of light,” declared a worker who received emergency financial relief after a recent natural disaster. “The stress that comes with this is terrible, and this is the first time in my life that I’ve felt like somebody cares.” The worker, quoted by E4E Relief, a nonprofit that helps employers support workers in times of crisis, spoke for many of his colleagues as well. “Every time there is a hurricane and a business has to close down for a couple of days, employees, who are often living paycheck-to-paycheck, lose their scheduled hours and income.”
Testimonials like this are abundant among recipients of emergency financial relief, yet companies who partner with programs like E4E Relief’s want to quantify the impact of their investment. With that in mind, E4E has launched a new program, ImpactStack, to conduct industry-leading research to quantify the incidental business outcomes of the financial relief work that their team has carried out for more than 20 years. The impact stretches across a range of social and business metrics that matter regardless of industry, geography, demographic, or crisis. The insights are then integrated into business intelligence that provides companies with insights about the outcomes that key stakeholders achieve through financial relief.
Holly Welch Stubbing, E4E Relief’s president and CEO, says the new research confirms the significant impact of their program: “81% of grant recipients regained financial stability. 54% experienced improved mental well-being. 70% said that it helped them return to or maintain productivity at work. 52% said that they had increased engagement [at work], and 76% had a more positive perception of their employer.”
From Day One recently interviewed Welch Stubbing to get an inside look at how ImpactStack collects and analyzes information about relief recipients at a time when employees need additional support for a multiplicity of reasons, including climate disasters, geopolitical disruptions, and economic conditions. Excerpts:
Q: What is ImpactStack, and how did E4E Relief get started with it? How does it work?
A: ImpactStack is our proprietary framework, insights, and business intelligence associated with providing the social and business outcomes of grants to individuals.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, when our volume went up as companies really started grasping employee relief, we started doing outcomes-based research. While it was arguably a crazy time to launch, it also was a great time to launch from the standpoint of trying to assess need. We needed to know if the money being sent was really making a difference. I suspected it was, since we already had a lot of qualitative information from our grantees. We had stories and hundreds of notes, handwritten or sent via email, where people would articulate what happened to them and thank our team. However, I wanted that to be something quantitative and something we could make available to the companies we’re working with to show the outcomes of their philanthropic investment.
I have been in the foundation world for 27 years, and the conversation is constantly, are our grants making a difference? How are we investing in these institutions to drive out a set of outcomes? Trying to ensure those institutions have the capacity, resources, and technology is extremely complicated and difficult. In our work, we have a real chance of getting real information from people who are receiving these grants. And so I thought, could we design something that meets the quantitative expectations of companies? And could we make that available in the form of insights as part of our solution? So in June, that’s what we did, and we expanded on the surveys we created, which had a focus on financial well-being, to map outcomes based on criteria that Fortune 500 clients would recognize. We wanted them to immediately see the relevance and understand the significance of the impact.
Q: Were there any surprises in the data about impact?
A: I was surprised at how high some of these scores were, particularly in our productivity results. 70% of our grant recipients were able to maintain productivity at work. And 54% ─ more than half the people we are granting to ─ have an improved mental state. That’s something. I expected engagement to be higher.
The deeper you go into the social outcomes data ─ the housing, food, demographic data ─ that’s where there will be additional insights. And while that data isn’t available to our corporate partners yet, we’re working on it because it’s important and it shows a lot.
Q: How does ImpactStack support E4E Relief’s goals and company philosophy?
A: It’s central to who we are. Employee relief programs continue to gain importance, and organizations are trying to decide if it’s something they want to stack into their mix of workforce offerings. It’s hard to justify those investments without really understanding, ‘What is this doing?’
My hope is that, as our organization evolves and as we get more information, we can then provide a set of insights about what it looks like to be a financial first responder. There are all kinds of studies going on around meaningful support for the low to moderate income worker. And in the midst of natural disasters and the severity of all of these climate events now, companies feel like they need to do something. We’re providing support for personal hardships from these experiences, but also providing the C-Suite a readiness plan and a solution for when disaster strikes the next time so they don’t have to adjudicate this in the middle of the crisis. Support is already there.
Q: How do you ensure insights found through ImpactStack are effectively communicated, and how do you use the information to refine the program?
A: ImpactStack is now a part of our product, so every new company coming in is going to have access to it. For existing customers, we’ve launched it several different ways, including customer meetings and webinars.
But the latter part of that question is what we’re really interested in. How do we evolve our processes and decisions based on what we’re seeing? We’re very new to that. And this will be part of our journey for the rest of time. But for the moment, we have new information and new insights unique to our market, and we will hold onto that and then expand on it. But for now, I think our outcome data offers enough to give people a sense of what they need to start having strategic conversations. We recently met with a very large Fortune 15 organization, and after meeting, they left with the information needed to justify a significant investment in the program. That’s as good a response as you can get from a company of that scale. We have our central purpose as a social enterprise and continue to think about additional layers. But there’s enough information here right now, even today, just from insights alone to get these conversations rolling.
Q: Do you have a quantifiable sense that we are facing more disasters today than ever before, and at the same time, socioeconomic situations where people are disproportionately affected?
A: We’ve pulled together the drivers in the framework of climate change, geopolitics, and economic conditions. Imagine placing this concept on a chart: In the center, we have the conditions, while on the outer layer, we examine their individual impact and their implications for both businesses and the broader sustainable development goals, especially for those companies invested in ESG (environmental, social, and governance) principles. We also built the research and the platform to meet the reporting requirements for ESG and corporate citizenship standards. So for big companies who really care about ESG considerations, the hope is that our data is accessible. Outcomes data of this kind can be hard to procure. Some believe we have made it much easier for companies to track “S”-related outcomes.
We have data on disasters and the activity around them, and also the economic conditions in the U.S., with a focus on the utilization of credit, which is being used at the highest rate ever seen. We have all these connecting points and trends that we’re seeing to bring to thought leaders and continue having these conversations.
Q: Your website offers many testimonials from grant recipients. Are there any specific stories or situations you’d like to shed light on? One that was particularly impactful?
A: A relevant and impactful one is from the wildfires happening in Hawaii. It’s devastating, with the loss of life and homes. We’ve heard that one company has lost an employee, and 65 employees are now without homes. That’s a lot to process. There’s a group here that’s trying to work through it with them. Here’s a quote from them:
“Our peaceful community was swept by the wildfire unleashed by Hurricane Dora. Our home, a sanctuary to my family for the past three years, turned to ashes in the blink of an eye. With evacuation orders, we fled, leaving behind everything. The fire took everything from us, but not our hope. Our family of four is now staying with friends searching for a new beginning. Basic necessities like food, water, and clothing have become urgent priorities. We are resilient. With your support, we can rebuild our lives in our community.”
Another example that comes to mind is the war in Ukraine. For most people and companies, it was a surprise that left no time to figure out a path for relief. And when you have banking systems that have shut down, and you have people fleeing, literally fleeing for their lives, we had to figure out how to get payments securely to individuals. It was difficult to get relief there, but we figured it out.
As you can imagine, not every disaster affects every company, and it doesn’t hit every company the same way. I’m proud to work with the talented team at E4E Relief. They are committed to stepping up and navigating each client situation with compassion so that we can deliver emergency financial relief to individuals around the world.
Editor’s note: From Day One thanks our partner, E4E Relief, for sponsoring this sponsor spotlight.
Erin Behrens is a member of the editorial staff of From Day One.
Featured photo: Volunteers make food and supply deliveries to elderly residents impacted by the devastating wildfire in last month in Lahaina, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)