While it makes sense to have employee disaster and hardship relief grants available to current employees, providing access to retired employees may also make good business sense. Retired employees are likely to continue living in the area where they worked, and are at risk for the same natural disasters as current employees. By including retired workers as eligible recipients of grant funds, your company is reinforcing the notion that it is an organization that truly cares for its members, even after retirement.
This option for your relief program builds a strong employee community, since even retired workers are still eligible and even involved. The Postal Employees Relief Fund is one example of an organization that makes its fund accessible to both retired and current staff. Further, EAF has partnered with an employer for a relief fund which is also open to retired and even to former employees (the latter of which must not have been terminated for cause).
From a financial standpoint, including retirees provides an incentive for older employees to contribute to the fund. Mature employees also may have greater disposable income than younger employees just starting their careers, and may be willing to offer larger contributions.
This is also a great way to keep retired employees engaged with the organization. Using a method similar to an alumni organization, retired employees can be encouraged to provide donations to the employee emergency relief fund. If your fund contributions are tax-deductible, it can be a way to encourage donating to the fund in lieu of donating to an outside organization.
Keeping employees engaged with the company and contributing to the fund late into their careers and even after retirement is a win-win for both the organization and staff, both past and present.
Source: Postal Employees Relief Fund, http://www.postalrelief.com/