Volunteering at a food drive during COVID 19

6 ways to help those in need during COVID-19

From volunteering to virtual fundraising, opportunities abound

For nonprofit organizations, the COVID-19 crisis has kicked off a reimagining of how to engage others in making the world a better place. Charities are swapping costly galas for accessible online events – lowering their cost per dollar raised in the process. They’re also recruiting virtual volunteers through new online portals.

Research shows that many Americans are eager to support charities’ efforts, but many are in the dark about how to find the right opportunity. Nearly 60% of Americans say they want to volunteer now, compared with 36% who said they gave of their time in 2019, a September report from Points of Light showed, saying it’s more important than ever because of the COVID-19 crisis. Nearly 75% said the same about donating to charity.

Here are six ways you can help others as the country heals from the pandemic.

Find volunteer opportunities to be passionate about

To break down barriers, VolunteerMatch teamed up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Candid, DonorsChoose and GivingTuesday to create a “one-stop shop” for volunteering opportunities: powerof.org. Launched in May 2020, it serves up ideas for how to help others (especially skilled help delivered virtually) alongside specific events in your local area and around the globe. You can also sign up for alerts to local volunteering needs that match your skills and interests at volunteermatch.org and vet organizations using Charity Navigator.

Donate blood

When the country went into lockdown in early 2020, blood drives were canceled. As a result, the nation’s blood supply took a hit. Giving blood to reputable collection agencies that are adhering to safety protocols is encouraged. To find a blood drive, check this locator, visit the Red Cross website or call 800.RED.CROSS. If you’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine, you're eligible to donate as long as you are symptom-free and can provide data on the manufacturer of your vaccine. You can also learn about volunteering with the Red Cross at redcross.org/volunteer.

Help your local food bank

Since the pandemic began, Raymond James Charitable donors have given their time and money to Feeding America’s network of food banks to help fight hunger in their communities. It’s a pressing need – Feeding America estimated in late 2020 that those facing hunger will rise to more than 50 million this year, up from 35 million in 2019. Learn more about how to help at feedingamerica.org and foodpantries.org.

Support frontline workers and healthcare needs

Donating hot meals and personal protective equipment, as well as volunteering to make face shields, are a few ideas on how to support frontline workers during the crisis. You can also donate to charities that support hospitals, especially those that allow donors to set up their own websites to encourage friends to join them in donating. Learn more about vetted charities in this area at charitynavigator.org.

Tutor or mentor

In the aftermath of school closures, many children are struggling with learning gaps. To help boost education, you can volunteer to mentor or tutor a student virtually or donate to community organizations working in this area, including ones that help provide children with computers and internet access. Visit donorschoose.org, charitynavigator.org or volunteermatch.org to find ways to help.

Try app-based volunteering

Volunteering has taken on novel forms as normal life has been upended. Using apps, isolated seniors are combatting loneliness by reading to children, and those longing for purpose are signing up to help visually impaired people with tasks. To learn more, see this article.

Sources: Chronicle of Philanthropy; powerof.org; volunteermatch.org; charitynavigator.org; redcross.org; feedingamerica.org; goodhousekeeping.com

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