With the coronavirus pandemic reaching into every corner of American life, people are feeling a range of emotions: grief, fear, anxiety, helplessness, and the list goes on. In this time of uncertainty, one thing remains the same, and that’s the unique role that we can each play in contributing to the lives of others. People tapping into their best opportunities to help is how we will get through this crisis together. We may be staying in our homes and remaining six feet apart when outside, but we can still connect with each other in meaningful ways.
Here are seven ways you can help:
Donate directly to a family. For many people, the pandemic has resulted in job loss, unforeseen medical expenses, and the piling up of unpaid bills. Research shows that direct cash investments is the fastest and most effective way to help during times of crisis. Families know best what they need most and empowering them with a direct investment makes all the difference. Through the new Stand Together initiative #GiveTogetherNow, 100% of every dollar donated is given directly to a family. Over $26 million in cash has already been raised to support over 50,000 families. This effort is unique in that each family supported will also be invited to join a community of local peers so they can continue to work together and lift each other up in the weeks and months ahead. Learn more at GiveTogetherNow.org.
Find new ways to volunteer virtually. You may not be able to leave the house, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to use your professional skills and talents to help nonprofit organizations and nonprofit leaders who are on the ground serving those hit especially hard by COVID-19. Stand Together Foundation partners with Catchafire, a virtual volunteer matchmaking platform that connects talented professionals like you to transformative nonprofits that need assistance fulfilling business-critical needs like marketing communications, digital strategy, operations management, human resources, legal, finance, and more. You can immediately jump in providing help in these areas as nonprofits are reimagining new ways to keep their programs going while creating new opportunities for their beneficiaries. Sign up here to be notified as new opportunities to help are entered.
Crowdsource educational resources to help parents teach at home. More than 44 million children in the U.S. are now learning from home because of school closures. In response, yes. every kid—part of the Stand Together community—created an online resource, #LearnEverywhere, where parents, many of whom are working from home while trying to teach their kids, can ask questions, crowdsource solutions, find educational resources, and lean on the network to help navigate the new educational reality caused by COVID-19. The #LearnEverywhere social community brings people together to help one another, to share ideas, and to provide a sense of community among parents dealing with similar circumstances.
Join a mutual-aid network. Families and individuals are struggling in a variety of ways, from paying bills to securing care for an ailing parent. Finding ways to meet every need is difficult. But communities across the country have come together to answer the call by developing mutual-aid networks. Organized online via Google docs, volunteers fan out across neighborhoods, working to understand what their neighbors need, from mental health counseling to grocery delivery to pet care, and connecting them to people who can help.
Host a virtual civic dinner. Many people are creating virtual happy hours to stay connected to family and friends in isolation. But you can also have honest, productive conversations with people outside your immediate circle via virtual civic dinners. Civic Dinners, an Atlanta nonprofit, facilitates community dinners that spark real conversations around big issues that can be tough to tackle. The group shares Stand Together’s belief that meaningful conversations that involve exchanging ideas and opinions can create real change. With social distancing, Civic Dinners has transformed its experiences online so people can find new ways to connect, meet new people, and have real conversations. Join an existing Civic Dinner — or host one of your own.
Shop gifts with purpose. While the COVID-19 pandemic has upended the global markets, nonprofit social enterprises carry on, creating pathways to financial independence for at-risk individuals and families. Your support of their work, especially in these days, keeps vulnerable populations employed and amplifies the positive impact of these nonprofit organizations within their own communities. So, if you are looking for some unique, creative and meaningful products for gifts to treat yourself or send to someone you love during this time of social distancing, look no further than our social enterprise gift guide. Here is a collection of some of the most effective social enterprises that are using their business models to create opportunity, strengthen communities, and inspire change.
Lend a hand to a healthcare practitioner. Healthcare workers across the country are working long shifts in unimaginable situations — and by most epidemiological projections, the worst is yet to come. Providers, caregivers, and hospital staff, from chief residents to housekeepers, need personal protective equipment (PPE), hot meals, and public support. Restaurants across the country are organizing efforts to provide meals to hospital workers, so consider donating to one in your community. Donations of masks and PPE are welcome and needed, no matter how small. And if you know a healthcare practitioner, say thank you, even if it’s just a text to let them know you are thankful for them.
As you explore ways to help during this pandemic, we hope that you will give of yourself when and how you can. This crisis is impacting everyone differently, both in needs and opportunities to help. But everyone has something unique and powerful to contribute to the lives of those around them. The key is finding opportunities that speak to you and that utilize your skills, passions, and resources so that we can all contribute in truly meaningful ways to persevere through this difficult time together.