Helping Nashville Recover From the Flood

Company Turns to Ad Technology to Quickly Support Community

By Published on .

Jonathan Dyke
Jonathan Dyke
When deadly flood waters surged through central Tennessee the weekend of May 1-2, more than 2,000 homes in Nashville alone were completely destroyed. Thousands of families were left homeless, and hundreds suffered severe injuries. Tragically, at least 30 people lost their lives.

With the focus now turned to cleanup and rebuilding, officials estimate the property damage caused by the flood to be more than $1.5 billion—and many families already battered by the grinding recession of recent years have no funds to rebuild their homes. Tennessee needs money to get back on its feet, and fast.

My company, edo Interactive, is based in Nashville. As my colleagues and I surveyed the damage in our neighborhoods, as far as the eye could see, there were buildings with shattered windows and houses reduced to splinters. The waters had picked up toys, furniture, common household items—and these abandoned objects now lay sodden in the streets. And everywhere there was mud.

Everyone at edo felt we needed to do something to help the people who were left homeless, despondent and adrift by this terrible tragedy. So we decided right away to launch a giving campaign, based on our mobile and digital advertising technology platform.

Our "GiveMore, GetMore" campaign did two things:

  • First, edo donated $14,000 to local churches. Since edo's marketing platform enables brands to deliver "coupons-on-a-card" directly to consumers' credit or debit cards, we leveraged this technology to create 280 cards preloaded with $50 in cash that can be used at any store where debit MasterCards are accepted. We gave these GiveMore, GetMore cards to seven local churches, which in turn handed them out to their parishioners. While $50 may not seem like much when your house is in ruins, at least it could help folks buy some groceries, meals or other essentials. The cards were available to people starting May 14.
  • Second, edo issued a call to local Nashville businesses to participate with us in GiveMore, GetMore, boosting their own charitable efforts. Local businesses were able to add their own "coupons" to the Give More, GetMore cards. Consumers were then told about the coupons when they received the card and could choose to use the cards at participating businesses to make their $50 go a little further. Coupons were automatically and easily redeemed at checkout when consumers made purchases at the participating merchants' stores. Local businesses such as Moe's Southwest Grill joined the call to play a part in the program, making discounts available to flood victims so their GiveMore, GetMore money was even more useful.

Natural disasters are unpredictable and devastating. Thankfully, the Internet and digital technologies make fundraising in the aftermath of disasters a little easier. Thousands of people rushed to donate money online in the aftermath of the Tennessee flood. edo's digital charity campaign using GiveMore, GetMore preloaded cash cards shows how technology can make giving easier and faster than before. Local merchants were able to give back to Nashville residents by offering discounts on their products and services—and boost business for themselves as well. Technology such as digital discounts makes giving easier and is a win-win both for brands that want to associate themselves with charitable campaigns and for customers who get cash rewards in times of need.

Now, when I visit Nashville neighborhoods hit hardest by the storms, I see people in the streets clearing rubbish, wielding hammers to fix neighbors' houses or digging favorite toys out of the mud. A little cash and some valuable coupons are no replacement for a lost home or, even more tragically, a lost loved one. But as a community, everyone in Nashville is coming together to help rebuild our great city.

Jonathan Dyke is the chief operating officer of edo Interactive.
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