The COVID-19 pandemic has turned the world upside down, and not just because of the virus itself. Shutdowns, layoffs, and increased regulations have left countless people in financial and psychological distress, while lockdowns and social distancing mandates have forced many people to endure these pressures in almost complete solitude. Services like at- home care have become both a luxury and a necessity, as people require more services while still trying to practice social distancing. Even if you haven’t come in contact with the virus itself, there’s no doubt you’ve experienced its impact.
Thankfully, many people have found ways to work around the financial setback, often by working from home. Although the pandemic is far from over and industries like daycare have taken a serious hit, some things are starting to feel normal again.
Considering the economic panic that erupted over the last year, you wouldn’t have expected 2020 to be a great year for giving. You may be one of many people who was struggling to get by, cutting personal spending and perhaps getting a new insurance quote as you try to lower costs. But if you thought all the financial pressure would cause people to be less generous this year, you’d be wrong: on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving alone, Americans donated nearly $2.5 billion — a full 25% more than the year before.
Although this surge in generosity may be partly explained by people getting their jobs back or finding new ones, it’s still surprising. Amid the worst of circumstances, 2020 has been a year that humanity came together and supported one another.
However, there’s still much to be done, and many more people in need of help. Fortunately, you can do your part to help them by making donations for non profits. Maybe you recently got your finances in order and you want to find the best places to donate money. Or perhaps you’ve been one of the lucky few who wasn’t significantly impacted by the pandemic, and are simply looking for more ways to give.
Either way, keep reading to learn how donations for non profits have been distributed in 2020, how giving has changed, and how you can find great causes to support.
Donations for Non Profits: How to Give Responsibly
People have been setting aside donations for non profits for a long time, but like all things in 2020, the rules have changed a little. Keep reading to learn what the giving landscape is like during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how you can be generous while avoiding scams and caring for yourself.
How Giving Has Changed in 2020
As we’ve established, people are still giving in 2020. In fact, while previous economic crises have caused decreased giving, through the pandemic people’s giving has actually increased. But like everything else this year, the way people give.
As you might expect, donations for non profits that focus on hunger and health have received the most attention. Meanwhile, arts and cultural organizations have experienced an understandable decrease in support. Without the normal avenues for income, such as ticket sales for in-person events, music centers, theaters, and museums have been hit hard. Although this is a bleak situation for arts enthusiasts, considering that giving across the board has increased in 2020, it’s at least a positive sign that organizations directly involved in the pandemic have received significant support.
A surprising alternative to traditional charities has also become prominent this year: mutual aid networks, which are local organizations that focus on organizing and supporting communities. People seem to have lost some of the faith they once had in traditional institutions, so emphasis has been given to local residents doing what they can to solve local problems. Rather than simply giving out money or goods to individuals, mutual aid networks focus on organized problem-solving and promoting a sense of cooperation within their communities. Because these organizations involve so much direct participation from the communities they serve, anyone benefited by the network can also help support it by pitching in with their time or resources.
Another unexpected avenue for giving has been crowdfunding through sites like GoFundMe. Individuals who have specific needs, such as car repairs or orthodontics work, can often get them funded for by friends and even strangers on the internet if they have a compelling story. While online crowdfunding has existed for a long time, it’s received increased attention as a means for direct person-to-person giving.
Beware of Scams
2020 has introduced more ways than ever to be generous, but it’s also resulted in more scams posing as charities. While this is a common occurrence anytime a wide-scale disaster happens, it’s especially significant this year. Because of this, you must make sure the charity you’re donating to is legitimate.
Scams often come in the form of copycat organizations — websites that claim to be a famous charity, or that use a similar name and branding to make themselves look like a major charity.
When you’re donating to a mainstream organization, you can make sure you’re not getting scammed by looking at the web address or URL on their website. Then run a quick google search for the organization’s official website, or check their Wikipedia page, and make sure the addresses are identical. Scammers will often use a web address that looks like the real thing, such as by replacing the letter L with the number 1, so look carefully.
Another way to avoid getting scammed is to only give to charities that you know and that you’ve given to in the past. Smaller, local non profits are excellent places to give, and scammers don’t normally try to imitate them.
The surest way to make sure you aren’t getting scammed is to give of your time instead of your money. Non profits are in dire need of volunteers right now, anyway. While lots of people are giving money generously, most of them are also staying home to avoid the virus, so even charities with lots of money are struggling to get volunteers. This is especially troubling for organizations that rely on volunteers for certain healthcare services, like Meals on Wheels and some personal care services. Giving your time to a local non profit can be an exciting and deeply fulfilling way to contribute.
Remember This for Tax Season
Normally you need to track your donations for non profits so you can claim them as charitable deductions when you file your taxes. However, this involves a tedious itemization process that some people don’t understand or have time for.
Fortunately, things are different this year. As part of the CARES Act, taxpayers are allowed to deduct up to $300 in cash contributions, even if they don’t itemize their donations for non profits. This is good news for the 90% of taxpayers who don’t itemize, and it will certainly help simplify tax time for many people.
Remember to Care for Yourself, Too
As you set aside donations for non profits and volunteer at local charities, remember to prioritize your own health and wellbeing.
You’ve probably heard the analogy that compares self-care to what airlines say to do if passengers have to put on oxygen masks during the flight. If you’ve ever been on a plane, you’ve heard the pilot or stewardess say to put your own mask on before assisting another passenger, even if it’s your child. The reason for this is that, if you help someone else put their mask on first, you could end up unconscious before you’re able to put your own mask on. Not only would the airline staff have to scramble to save your life, but you’d also be of no further help to anyone else on the flight, including the person you tried to put the mask on first. It would be almost like putting off going to the audiologist so you can be around to support the people you love, all while struggling to communicate or hear what they’re saying.
Similarly, if you don’t make sure you’re taken care of while you help care for others, your health could deteriorate, and then you wouldn’t be any help to anyone at all. And with a destructive, mysterious virus like COVID-19 on the rampage, compromising your health is one thing you cannot afford to do.
For this reason, make sure you’re managing your finances responsibly and getting plenty of rest, especially if you volunteer frequently. Giving and serving others is scientifically shown to be good for your health, but too much of anything can always be a bad thing. Remember to practice reasonable precautions when you leave your home, like wearing a mask and gloves. Get the medical attention and wellness services you need to feel your best, such as chiropractic care. And make sure to live a healthy lifestyle and take time to de-stress when you get home.
As a side note, don’t forget your mental health. Around 350 million people around the world are affected by some form of depression, and the pandemic is responsible for enormous stress across the globe. So make your mental health a priority, and keep in mind that the better you feel, the more help you’ll be able to give to others.
Places to Give
Now that we’ve discussed some tips and best practices for giving donations for non profits, let’s go over a few of the top organizations that need your help right now.
Charities Offering Medical Services
In a time when things like home health care and walk-in clinics are either restricted or hard to find, organizations providing medical care are in high demand.
Heart to Heart International create humanitarian initiatives to connect people with the resources they need around the world. Their programs promote health and wellness to the public, and they help people who are struggling to get the medical care they need.
Save the Children is another organization that offers medical care, specifically to children in need. Their mission is encapsulated in their belief that every child deserves a future, and they serve that mission by meeting the unique needs children have in whatever way is necessary.
Doctors Without Borders, USA is an organization that raises funds, creates awareness, and recruits field staff to help people in dangerous and unhealthy conditions. They provide assistance to ordinary people in times of crisis in almost 60 different countries around the world. They also advocate with the United Nations and the US government on humanitarian issues.
Charities Providing Medical Supplies
An orthodontist is only as effective as the ortho supplies they have available, and likewise, medical staff need tools and medicine to provide care. That’s something these organizations are known for.
Matthew 25 Ministries is a global humanitarian aid organization that provides help and disaster relief to impoverished people. Although they’re a Christian organization, they provide basic necessities, disaster relief, and even skill development services to anyone who needs it, regardless of their beliefs or way of life. They’ve also shipped more than 170 million pounds of aid supplies around the world since they started.
Direct Relief is a humanitarian organization that improves the health and living situations of people impacted by poverty or emergencies. They operate in more than 80 countries, and they provide tailored medical care, disaster response, and emergency preparedness services to people who need them most.
The Water Mission is another Christian organization that designs and builds water, sanitation, and hygiene solutions for people in disaster areas and developing countries. So far they’ve been able to provide access to safe water for more than five million individuals in 56 different countries.
Charities That Help Fund Local Organizations
Perhaps you’d like to play a role in giving donations for non profits in smaller, underserved communities. The following organizations help fund and empower local efforts to provide help to those in need.
United Way is a large organization with several divisions that each focus on a local community somewhere in the world. They claim to improve lives by mobilizing communities to help those in need, such as by supporting local organizations and care practitioners like orthodontic specialists.
The International Community Foundation promotes charitable giving and volunteerism to help overseas communities and non profit organizations. They are a well-respected organization that offers grants, programs, research, and donor educational services, particularly in Mexico and South America.
Maybe you don’t have a specific need in mind that you want to support, and would rather your donation goes where it’s most needed. These organizations provide much-needed help in multiple areas.
GlobalGiving is the first and largest worldwide crowdfunding community. It makes connections with vetted non profits, companies, and donors in almost every country in the world. Their goal is to leverage the generosity of people everywhere to support local projects where they’re most needed.
The Gary Sinise Foundation is an organization that provides care and assistance to veterans, active duty soldiers, and first responders, as well as their loved ones.
Finally, the Preemptive Love Coalition is a proactive organization that provides relief of all kinds to people in war-torn or disaster-ridden areas. Their services include helping people get education and jobs as well as providing healthcare support.
2020 has been an incredible reminder of how human beings can come together to support one another. From volunteering your time to giving donations for non profits, there are countless ways that you can help others.