Giving back during the holidays is a yearly ritual for many people. According to the National Philanthropic Trust, statistics show that Americans gave $449.64 billion in 2019, which is a 5.1% increase from 2018. We’d call that the definition of a positive trend.
Unfortunately, philanthropic publishers are predicting that the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a sizable loss in charitable giving for 2020.
Still, even in the face of unexpected challenges, many of us have shown an amazing resiliency to stand back up. However, just as many of our friends and community members are struggling to gain their footing.
Some people may have lost a loved one to COVID-19, while others have lost their job and income. Many are fighting social injustice or struggling to leave an abusive situation during quarantine. This year, it’s more critical than ever to give back to your community.
Taking the First Step to Charitable Giving
If you’re new to making charitable donations or volunteering, check out this article by Charities Aid Foundation for some inspiring reasons for giving. Not only does the act of giving feel good for you, but it can also be inspiring for your friends and family — and potentially add to the impact of your gift.
Here’s a simple, three-step guide for charitable giving:
- Take stock of your resources —Are you able to give money, your time and expertise, or a mixture of both? No matter what resource you have, there’s an opportunity out there to share it.
- Figure out your mission —Are you looking to support a global cause? Or would you rather keep your efforts closer to home? Make a list to review your values, interests, and passions.
- Research charities — With so many non-profit organizations to choose from, this can definitely be a little overwhelming at first. Charity Navigator is a third-party evaluator that rates charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. This is a good resource for potential donors to get unbiased information so that they can make an informed choice as to where their money goes.
We all have that one friend or family member who is tough to shop for. This year, instead of buying a gift, consider making a donation in their name. With so many in need now more than ever, donating to organizations —local or international!— will make a resoundingly positive impact. After you have found a charity to donate to, use the printable donation cards in this article to let someone know you donated on behalf of them this season.
Nine Simple Ways You Can Give Your Time
2020 has been a challenging year for many people. If money is a little tight, or you need to save for your own holiday activities, that’s OK! There are plenty of ways to give back by giving your time, and charities really need this kind of help as well.
Here are just some suggestions for giving back that don’t involve writing a check:
- Know your neighbors — If you have elderly neighbors who might need help with errands, yard work, walking their dog, or driving to appointments, offer them a hand.
- Clean out your pantry & donate food — Currently, 40 million Americans are struggling with food insecurity and have limited access to resources. Check out this guide for information on the top six food banks, how to donate food items, and step-by-step tips for nonperishable foods.
- Donate blood — Donating blood or plasma is literally giving the gift of life. All it will cost you is your time, and it can make an enormous difference.
- Put your skills to use — Can you crochet or knit? Hospitals need hats for newborn babies. Are you athletic? Get involved with coaching a sport for a community league, or sign up for a charity walk or run.
- Visit children’s hospitals — Did you know that snuggling babies is something you can volunteer for? Contact hospitals in your area to see if they need volunteers in their NICU.
- Volunteer at your kids’ school — Teachers need all sorts of help — especially during this busy time of year. Just reach out and ask what you can do to support them.
- Give your animal shelter some love — Organize a drive for used towels and blankets and pet supplies for your local animal shelter. You can also volunteer to walk and play with dogs or offer your lap for cats.
- Support homeless shelters — Donate clothing and unopened toiletries to people experiencing homelessness. Call a local homeless shelter and see what they need.
- Get social (media) — Like, follow, and share updates from your favorite non-profit organizations on your social media pages. Spreading the word is free and takes just a few seconds.
Something to keep in mind:
COVID-19 may affect how some organizations are working with volunteers, so be sure to call ahead of time and ask.
Get in the Giving Spirit
We all know that the holidays can be a difficult time for many people. More than ever, our communities need our support.
So while you’re making your list and checking it twice, don’t forget to include an organization (or two) that could greatly benefit from your contribution.