Understanding employee relief

Dear FFTC Team,

Between natural disasters and the pandemic, the past couple of years have been challenging for our employees. We really want to figure out how we can support them, but we don’t know where to begin. Do you have any advice? – Caring Employer

Dear Caring,

Employees are a business’s most valuable asset, and leaders want to support them as they navigate new and ongoing humanitarian crises around the world. In the wake of economic, health and climate challenges, many companies are innovating to help employees who are experiencing a disaster or personal hardship. Employee relief programs are a powerful solution that are increasing in popularity.

An employee relief program provides charitable financial assistance during disasters or times of hardship – such as major illnesses, house fires or natural disasters. This support comes in the form of direct cash grants that employees can use to cover unexpected expenses.

Research shows that employee relief programs have an immediate positive impact on employees, reducing stress and allowing them to focus on work. They provide a safety net and increase employee engagement. Further, our findings indicate that these programs are not only good for employees but good for business, leading to increased employee satisfaction and productivity while increasing positive feelings towards employers.

In-house or third-party?

Companies of all sizes wrestle with preparing for unexpected events, including how to allocate the right people and resources to respond to the unknown. Many have found solutions with third-party employee relief providers, such as E4E Relief, which manage IRS compliance, enforce eligibility requirements and perform day-to-day operations and grantmaking. Third parties often carry the administrative load while ensuring the spirit of the program is in line with your company’s brand and values.

Establish your program

For more than two decades, E4E Relief, a subsidiary of Foundation For The Carolinas, has helped companies establish employee relief programs. We can help you get started in three steps:

    1. Consult on program design
      When setting up an employee relief fund, executive leaders, human resources and legal counsel should all be included in the conversation. Your program can cover everything from natural disasters and pandemics to more common hardships, such as a major illness or house fire. Including stakeholders across departments is key to ensuring alignment on your program’s goals and requirements, such as which employees qualify and what events are covered. The scope of your fund will depend on your organization, your employees’ needs and your funding capacity. The E4E Relief team provides consultation on program design to ensure a sustainable and equitable fund.
    2. Establish your funding sources
      Programs may be funded with charitable contributions from your company, leadership team and employees. Decide how you want to seed the fund and ensure sustainability in the years to come. Your program can provide both a response for employees in crisis and an opportunity to engage employees through giving.
    3. Launch your program and share
      During onboarding our team builds your company’s branded website, while your team develops a communication plan for launching the program. We encourage companies to continually celebrate the positive impact of your relief program on donors, grantees and employee culture.

Even if you’re in the early stages of consideration, E4E Relief’s experts can help you define your goals and lay the foundation for an effective employee relief fund. This has been our mission and work since 2001, and we’re here to help. Contact me at to start the conversation.

Davida Rivens helps companies build charitable relief programs to support their employees in times of crisis. After nine years leading E4E Relief's customer experience and relationship management team, she transitioned to the role of vice president of product management and sales, where she identifies trends and opportunities to advance the relief field.