Everyone is scrambling to adjust their lives around the coronavirus pandemic. You’re probably feeling a swarm of feelings and finding out how to cope with the changes. That’s understandable. But for those of us who are able to continue working from home or have some disposable income to help others, it is a critical time to reflect how we can help those who are working hard to keep the world spinning.
As an added incentive for taxpayers in the US, you will be able to deduct $300 in charitable contributions in 2020 even if you claim the standard deduction, thanks to the new CARES Act.
How is the coronavirus impacting nonprofits?
While nonprofits have always worked on challenging, community and society-oriented missions, the world of COVID-19 brings a new set of hurdles. Nonprofits are seeing a reduction in donations and having to cut hours or lay off their employees. At the same time, they have to adapt quickly and move their events/programs online (if at all possible), train their workers on new safety practices, and figure out where and how to apply for aid (overcoming bureaucratic hurdles).
According to the Nonprofit Times, “Of the more than 300 nonprofit employees in the survey [in March 2019], 95 percent said that COVID-19 had impacted their ability to deliver in programming (82 percent), fundraising (79 percent), or engaging in volunteer services and programs (79 percent). More than three-quarters said the impact is “severe” in at least one of those three areas.” Things are looking more dire for nonprofits than during the Great Recession (2007-2009).
How is it impacting those that the nonprofits serve?
The people and communities that these nonprofits serve are also severely impacted, and need more help than ever before. Just last week (ending on April 4), new unemployment claims exceeded 6 million in the US. As we saw during and after the Great Recession, lower income and people of color suffered more losses, so vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected.
With reduced capacity, many nonprofits are struggling to meet the needs of the people they serve. For example, food banks are seeing cars line up for miles, losing volunteers, and needing to buy food to make up for shortages in food donations.
According to the New York Times, food banks are seeing a nearly tenfold rise in food cost:
“At Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha, the amount of food donated for March dropped by nearly half. The food bank typically purchases $73,000 of food in a month this time of year but has spent $675,000 in the past four weeks.”
“Feeding America, the nation’s largest network of food banks, with more than 200 affiliates, has projected a $1.4 billion shortfall in the next six months alone.”
“Larry Scott, Three Square’s chief operating officer, said that the group had expected 200 to 250 cars a day at each drive-through. They’re getting up to 500 to 600 cars instead, with lines up to four miles long. “Every day, we distribute everything that we bring to a site,” Mr. Scott said.
An initial glut of high-quality food from shuttered casinos is basically gone, Mr. Scott said. Now his food bank is burning through an extra $300,000 to $400,000 a week in cash to buy food.
He said that he saw no relief in sight. “What we do today has to be repeated again tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day,” Mr. Scott said. “Hungry people are hungry each and every day.”
How much longer is it going to last?
It will vary largely on the response of the government, people (#StayAtHome!), and factors like how well we can find a vaccine, so no one knows for sure. For the US, looking at data from Our World In Data, the curve on daily deaths to COVID-19 is still not flattening out, so it seems we have a long way to go.
[Our World In Data is a nonprofit that’s gathering and visualizing data/research about the coronavirus. Support their work on Every.org.]
Now more than ever, nonprofits need help in their missions.
What can I do as an individual?
Individual donations are often much less restricted than funding that a nonprofit can get elsewhere, so every bit of help counts. When it comes to the causes you support, we’ve found there is no single “right” way to give. Reflect on the values that are important to you and consider which area you want to support most.
If you need some ideas to get started, you can check out our coronavirus page for nonprofits working on coronavirus relief efforts. We know many foundations and organizations are also creating lists of where to give too, so you can see if the publications you trust have recommendations.
But these lists can only cover so many organizations and tend to favor larger ones, while we know that there are many more organizations out there doing critical work.
If you’re inclined to support nonprofits in a specific region or cause, you can use Every.org’s search functionality to search through all US 501(c)(3) nonprofits.
Here are some example search queries:
If you already have a favorite nonprofit, you can continue supporting them. Many nonprofits are struggling, and having your continued support will help them do what they do through the pandemic.
Supporting a nonprofit through Every.org, especially if you add a comment sharing why, will help other people discover that nonprofit too. This can help nonprofits raise money without spending their time and money on marketing.
We hope to continue connecting givers and nonprofits for lasting support during this unprecedented time. We welcome any feedback (or at [email protected]). If there’s a nonprofit that you think is doing outstanding work related to the coronavirus, please let us know so that we can add them to the Coronavirus page.
Or if you’re finding our search isn’t giving you good recommendations, let us know what you searched for and what you expected so that we can improve it.