COVID-19 is affecting all of us right now, but of course we are not all impacted in the same way. While many Americans are able to work from home, millions of people have lost their jobs in the last few weeks, and many people who still have employment are working in essential jobs that put them in greater risk of being exposed to Coronavirus. Also, it’s become increasingly clear that communities that experience health disparities such as communities of color are disproportionately affected with higher rates of cases and deaths from the virus.
With such great need, what is the best way to go about making charitable contributions that will impact the people who need it most? Perhaps you have already given to your local food pantry (I’ve listed my favorite ones below) or your state’s relief fund like Colorado’s COVID Relief Fund or your faith community that can’t take weekly collections right now. What next?
Here are a few ideas on how to give in meaningful ways and make an impact
Donate your stimulus check. Stimulus checks should start showing up this week. If you are still earning your income and are financially secure, consider donating your check. Or, if you earn too much to qualify, consider contributing an additional $1,200 (or $2,400 for a couple) this week. Resource Generation has created a program called Share My Check where people can make a pledge to donate their payments.
Give to people who won’t receive checks. People who don’t receive W-2s or 1099 forms for their work will not receive checks (or unemployment payments). Neither will undocumented workers. And people who are unbanked will face challenges as well. Giving to organizations who serve these populations (or giving directly to people you know in this situation) will make an immense impact. Impact Charitable has created an Undocumented Workers Fund that will provide Colorado workers $500 - $1000 cash grants through trusted nonprofits.
Give from your donor-advised fund. If your personal finances seem shaky right now, don’t forget about your donor-advised fund (DAF). Many donors are accessing these charitable savings accounts and giving much more during this crisis. Leveraging gifts from your DAF with your personal giving will make an even greater impact.
Give to your favorite organizations. Even if your favorite nonprofit is not directly addressing this crisis, now is still a good time to give. Arts & culture and environmental organizations for example may not be top of mind right now and may experience a decrease in giving. It’s okay to continue to support these causes. After all, sheltering-in-place makes us all realize the value of our cultural institutions and open spaces. When this is all over, we will be happy they are there. Also, the stimulus bill has eliminated the maximum deduction this year, so generous donors can deduct more than 50% of their adjusted gross incomes. (Note that charitable contributions into your donor-advised fund don’t qualify—consultant your tax advisor for more details.)
I’d love to know how you have given that feels meaningful right now. Thanks for reading and thanks for sharing.
P.S. These are my favorite local orgs that provide emergency food and all are experiencing very high demand right now. Street Fraternity serving young men and the refugee community, Montbello Organizing Committee with a mobile food pantry in Montbello, Bienvendos Food Bank in north Denver. And here is a great FAQ from the New York Times about all things Stimulus Package. Be well.