Before the pandemic, it was easier to help. You could physically show up to assist those in need. Dish out meals at a soup kitchen, volunteer at your child’s school, visit someone in a nursing home or organize a bake sale at a sports event to raise money. Today, many people are wary of face-to-face contact, even with a six-foot distancing in place. But that doesn’t mean you can’t help.
Here are a few ideas to get you thinking.
1. Look close to home
Ask friends and family if they need help or know of people who could use help. If elderly relatives live alone, you might be able to help with grocery shopping or running errands. Your local house of worship, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), boy/girl scout troop or food pantry are also good places to start and may already have needs to fill. You may be able to give money, package up supplies to send someone or provide support over the phone.
2. Support local businesses
Many small businesses are suffering. Consider ordering takeout from local restaurants, buying produce from local farm stands or purchasing gift cards to local businesses that you or someone else can use later.
3. Bring your kids into the conversation
It’s never too early to encourage the next generation’s philanthropic behavior. Ask your children to think about how they can help. Getting the whole family engaged can generate lots of great ideas. Your kids might even have friends whose families could use some extra assistance these days.
4. Explore ways to connect and volunteer virtually
It might be a matter of making phone calls to check up on people who are housebound or trying to solicit money for an organization.
5. Remember those on the front lines
If you’re skilled with a sewing machine, you can make masks for people who need them literally all the time — like teachers in schools, restaurant workers or cashiers in grocery stores.
6. Look for matching donations
You may work for an employer who will match donations up to a certain amount. Or, you can look for organizations that will match your donations to certain causes. If you find a nonprofit you like, you may be able to sign up to receive emails letting you know when donations are matched.
7. Fulfill wishes
Around the holidays, there are always ways you can help provide meals or gifts for children or families who are struggling. Look to your city or town’s website or elected officials for guidance.
8. Clean out your closet or garage
Just because you don’t want that old couch or those gently used clothes, doesn’t mean someone else won’t want them — and be willing to take them off your hands. Some organizations will even come to your house to pick up the things you don’t want.
9. Be careful of scams
While there are lots of organizations out there that could use your money and other donations, since COVID-19 began, there are also a lot of bogus organizations looking to scam you out of your money. Before you send money, make sure the organization is a legitimate 501(c)(3) nonprofit, according to the IRS.
10. Talk to your financial professional
If you’d like to make charitable giving a part of your financial plan, there are strategies you can use to make the most of your hard-earned dollars. Your financial professional can help.