The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world as we know it, interfering with every aspect of our society and economy and resulting in the world’s highest unemployment rates to date. Now—perhaps more than ever—our family members, friends, and neighbors are in need of a helping hand. If you have the means (or time) to do so, here is a list of organizations and foundations where you can donate money, time, or goods to make a difference in your community or the world at large.
Sometimes the quickest, easiest way to make a difference is by opening your checkbook or using one of the many digital payment platforms to make a monetary donation to a charity or good cause. We’ve listed some fantastic ones below, but be sure to ask around (from a distance!) in your own community to see if there are any local causes you can contribute to in order to help your own neighbors.
Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA)
- In addition to providing groceries to kids participating in its more than 2,500 clubs, BGCA offers virtual academic support in the form of digital activities and learning opportunities. Learn more and donate here.
- Direct Relief equips doctors and nurses across the globe with lifesaving medical resources. The organization is delivering personal protective equipment like masks, gloves, and isolation gowns to healthcare workers in areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases. You can donate here.
- Help kids continue to learn! Your First Book donation will help others by delivering millions of books to children who lack internet access and/or home libraries.
Meals on Wheels
- The country’s most vulnerable seniors are even more vulnerable now. Your donation will help replenish food supplies, subsidize transportation, and enable efforts to check on isolated recipients. Contact your local provider, or donate to the national group.
No Kid Hungry
- With schools closed, it’s more crucial than ever to make sure that children are getting enough food. No Kid Hungry deploys funds to ensure free access to meals for children in need. You can donate here.
Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC)
- RHMC focuses its resources on children with serious illnesses who must be away from home for long periods of time, by providing meals, housing, and support. Find your local chapter or donate to national (or international) efforts here.
- In addition to providing access to food, shelter, and childcare through its nationwide network, the Salvation Army is also providing snacks and hydration to the first responders who are working harder than ever during this time. Donate to the Salvation Army here.
United Way Worldwide
- All around the world, local United Way locations help with everything from connecting families to food pantries to providing financial aid to those who have lost wages due to the crisis. Make a difference by donating here.
With so many layoffs, closures, and unemployment rates at an all-time high, individuals and families are struggling more than ever just to put food on the table. Check with your local food pantry to see what items they are most in need of, and round up as much as you can. Or, if you know someone who is struggling but may be too proud to ask for help, buy them a grocery store gift card. You could even send it to them anonymously in the mail!
- With its network of 2,000 food banks and 60,000 food pantries, Feeding America is able to help support the most vulnerable communities affected by this pandemic. You can donate to their COVID-19 fund, or find your local food bank.
Feed the Children
- With thousands of partner agencies across the country, Feed the Children distributes food and hygiene items to food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and churches. To donate items, call 1-800-627-4556, or make a financial donation here.
Local food pantries
- Find the collection point(s) nearest you
A multitude of organizations and offices are in need of personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, and isolation gowns. If you happen to have unopened boxes of these supplies, please consider donating them to local first responders. If your company has an excess of unused materials/inventory (unwanted goods, overstock, factory seconds, and obsolete items), check out the National Association for the Exchange of Industrial Resources. They will collect these items and distribute them to schools, churches, and nonprofits across the country. Fill out a donation form or call 1-800-562-0955.
While it might seem a little contradictory to give blood while sheltering in place, there is a dire need for blood donations due to all the blood drives that have been canceled. Blood donation centers follow the highest standards of safety and infection control, so you can be confident you’re staying protected even while in a public space. (Bonus: you get to leave your home for a short time! Yay!) Just make sure to schedule an appointment ahead of time.
American Red Cross
- Make an appointment here or call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find a local donation site.
America’s Blood Centers
- America’s Blood Centers brings together independent blood donation centers across the country. Visit their website to find a nearby location and schedule an appointment.
While there’s still a lot to learn about COVID-19, we do know at this point that the virus is most severely affecting seniors (age 60+) and those who are immunocompromised. If you are healthy and able, help others by offering to do a grocery/medication/supply run for an at-risk family member, friend, or neighbor.
Just Reach Out
One of the best things you can do is just to reach out and keep in touch (metaphorically, of course) with the people in your life. It’s likely that all of us will have someone in our life who is greatly affected by this virus and/or its impact on the economy. Make sure those you care about are doing ok mentally, emotionally, and financially. While this pandemic is having a massive, negative impact on the majority of industries and companies, others are thriving right now. Keep an eye out and an ear open for companies that are hiring and reach out to others with those opportunities; help be the reason someone lands back on their feet following an unexpected job loss. And if you’re an engineer being impacted by this crisis, make sure to check out SWE’s online Career Center to view open engineering and STEM positions.