In the fall of 2013, portions of Colorado were devastated by flooding, setting in motion a cleanup and recovery period that lasted for months for some, and will continue for years for others. Charities, businesses and entire communities jumped into action to help in any way they could. Much of the focus was on rebuilding homes, farms, roads and infrastructure. One element of disaster relief that was equally as important to the economic vitality of the affected communities—yet lacked a clear solution—was damage to businesses.
Charities tend not to get involved in business-related philanthropy because the rules aren’t as well known, and tax laws associated with such support are often misunderstood. However, allowing damaged businesses to close up shop can have a rippling effect through a community that hinders the ultimate recovery process. So while others focused on individuals and infrastructure, Leaffer Law focused on the unmet needs of the business community.
“We recognized that small businesses were at particular risk of failing in the aftermath of the floods, and if small businesses could not rebuild, the entire community would continue to suffer—jobs would be lost, neighborhoods would decline, and individuals and families would endure further hardships,” said Karen Leaffer.“Everyone on our team rolled up their sleeves to help with Colorado disaster relief by helping nonprofits and entire communities understand the charitable giving opportunities available to help small business.”
Leaffer Law worked as a catalyst and champion for involving the charitable sector and private philanthropy in small business recovery—something that many thought could not be done.
The result: Leaffer Law brought together several foundations and charities to make more than $900K in business grants possible. By working with established charities and funding sources, this collective effort was able to have immediate impact in the community.
Coloradans know that disasters such as flood or fire are unavoidable; however, the example set by the 2013 flooding and the community’s response has helped pave the way for small businesses who may find themselves in this unfortunate position in the future.
- Leaffer Law Group blog post, Providing a Lifeline to Colorado’s Flood-Ravaged Businesses
- IRS Publication 3833, Disaster Relief
- IRS CPE Article, Disaster Relief–Current Developments
- Victoria Bjorklund Essay, Reflections on September 11 Legal Developments (included as part of September 11: Perspectives From the Field of Philanthropy)