Photo by Tim Marshall on Unsplash

In the midst of this pandemic outbreak, fostering a sense of unity has never been a more important or necessary pursuit. While many have been experiencing a change of lifestyle due to social distancing and stay-at-home orders, many have also been facing life-threatening symptoms, working in risky conditions, caring for at-risk loved ones or facing losses of income. 

Supporting healthcare initiatives, vulnerable groups and those in need is paramount not only for promoting health and safety, but for preserving goodwill in a time when it is most needed. Identifying avenues of support for these groups, however, has also been impacted by COVID-19. In many cases, volunteering in person is no longer a safe or viable option due to risks of asymptomatic spread or other exposure. Meanwhile, food or supplies-based initiatives are being affected by wariness over accepting items from outside sources that may have been exposed to the virus. 

Due to these unique challenges, not only is it harder for individuals to identify ways to help, but charities themselves have been forced to adapt how they receive that help from the public. In fact, many sources (such as CNN) have forecasted that this global pandemic could be a huge detriment to the landscape of charitable organizations across the world. Fundraisers are being cancelled, personnel safety has led to increased costs for preventative measures and many services (such as shelters for those experiencing homelessness or school-provided lunch programs) simply cannot be accomplished at a distance. Unfortunately, these mounting financial pressures also mean that nonprofit employees (who represented 22.2 million people, or about 14 percent of the U.S. workforce, in 2019) are at risk of losing their source of income as well. 

Fortunately, this desire to help despite the widespread impacts on charitable efforts has not gone unnoticed. The CARES Act, otherwise known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, has been put into motion, offering new added tax benefits for donors putting their dollars to work for this cause. This enables donors that are positioned to offer larger amounts of money to enjoy no limit to the tax deductions they can take for charitable contributions if they are itemized. Meanwhile, anyone who donates up to $300 can get a tax break, and corporations also receive a higher tax break for their charitable gifts. There are many more measures outlined in this act, and those that want more information can read a great overview from Forbes here.  

Although this does stimulate support for charities and their projects, in turn supporting those revenue streams and hopefully protecting job security for those affiliated, this does not solve the issue of finding proper organizations to donate to. There exist a multitude of opportunities for aid that span everything from medical and healthcare efforts to supporting at-risk individuals and communities. Here are just some of the options out there: 

  • Meals on Wheels is a great place to donate if you’re looking to offer seniors some support. They have been delivering meals to older and more vulnerable populations while strictly following CDC guidelines for safety. Donation options include the national branch or local providers
  • Homeless shelters still in operation are vital for protecting those who are less fortunate, and many are now conducting health screenings for patrons to ensure continued safety. This directory can help you locate a nearby shelter to help. 
  • The Boys and Girls Clubs of America are helping to keep children fed and sheltered and supporting virtual education efforts. Donations can be made here
  • The humanitarian group Direct Relief is providing much-needed medical supplies (protective masks, gloves and more) to healthcare organizations in affected areas. 

If you’re able, don’t forget to support small businesses during this time by buying local. We also urge you to take a look at resources like Charity Navigator or GuideStar — not only to locate your preferred organizations, but also to do your due diligence to ensure you’re avoiding scams and are allocating your money and efforts effectively.   

Overall, finding creative ways to support these causes is important, and finding uncommon solutions to even small problems can have a huge impact. For instance, this story showcases a young boy’s 3-D printed face mask holders that cut down on healthcare workers’ irritation from hours of wearing the straps around their ears. This has spurred others to join the cause, utilizing their own printers to provide these to their own local hospitals as well. 

At iMiller Public Relations, our team has also been searching for ways to help support others during this pandemic. Members of our team have joined their local communities to collect thousands of dollars worth of donations for local healthcare staff, donated funds that will help provide meals to local hospital residents and even begun making bracelets for friends, loved ones and frontline workers to show solidarity. iMiller Public Relations has even seen turnout from charities such as Angelwish, an organization that seeks to help millions of vulnerable children living with chronic illnesses, at its virtual networking events (which you can sign up for here). 

During this difficult time, many understandably cannot afford to allocate time or money to these efforts. Remember, brightening the days of those around you and serving as a source of hope and positivity during this unpredictable and worrisome time is, in its own right, an act of service. Above all, we encourage community, compassion, resilience and small acts of kindness wherever possible as important additions to preventative measures, adherence with CDC guidelines and charitable giving. 

In this trying time, we wish you and yours health, safety and peace of mind as we venture forth and overcome these challenges together.