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Monday, April 13, 2020

5 Ways You Can Support Nonprofits During the COVID-19 Outbreak

The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has the world navigating unprecedented waters. Millions of people are self-quarantined at home and reading more news than usual, but between the news updates, there are stories sharing small ways that people are showing up for another.

If you’re looking for a way to spread hope, and perhaps ease a heavy heart, there are several ways you can help. There are many organizations directly involved with COVID-19 relief, but emergency response and healthcare organizations aren’t the only nonprofits that need your support. The coronavirus pandemic is causing unusual struggles for everyone and all nonprofit organizations are still working hard to make an impact on their unique missions.

In addition to donating to the nonprofits supporting those on the front lines, consider these five ways you can offer support to all nonprofits during this time.

1. Donate Money, Supplies, or Your Time 
With layoffs and uncertainty surrounding our global economy, it’s okay if you don’t feel comfortable making a monetary donation. Just remember, that if you do want to donate, every penny counts. Sometimes supporters don’t give because they think they can’t give “enough” to make a difference, but any nonprofit professional will tell you that small donations can make a big difference.

If you don’t have the means to give cash, you can donate supplies or give your time.

For example, you may not initially think about an animal shelter needing support right now, but if nobody is adopting pets or donating supplies they will be unable to take care of their animals or rescue any new strays. Reach out to local shelters to see if there’s anything you can do from home (such as fostering a pet) or if there are any supplies they need (such as used towels or blankets).

If searching for one organization to support is overwhelming, check to see if there are state-wide initiatives that collect funds and then distribute to local nonprofits in your state. For example, the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund has raised $23 million and counting. According to their website:

“This fund will swiftly deploy additional financial resources to local community foundations and nonprofits to support residents in need of emergency food and basic supplies, interim housing and shelter, primary health care services, utility assistance, direct financial assistance for household expenses, supports for children and other vulnerable populations, and nonprofit safety and operations assistance. This fund will work in tandem with other funds set up around the State ensuring that resources go where they are needed most.”

Local funds such as this can help a large number of organizations and individuals working to make an impact, without causing more work for the supporter.

2. Start a Personal Fundraising Page
Create a personal fundraising page on behalf of a nonprofit. Many organizations hold evergreen peer-to-peer campaigns year-round so that supporters can choose when they raise funds on their behalf. For example, maybe you want to create a fundraising page for your birthday or prefer to raise money for a specific initiative the nonprofit has running.

Once you create your own fundraising page, you turn to your network to collect donations. This is another way to amplify the impact of small donations. If you can only afford to give $5, but you have 10 friends who can also give $5, you can raise $50 for a cause.

Think of it like those viral push-up challenge videos going around to keep people active during quarantine. One person tags 10 people and you have 11 people participating. But when each of those 10 people tag another 10 people, you suddenly have 100 people aware of a push-up challenge. Imagine if you asked for a $5 donation instead of a push up.

This is the concept and power behind peer-to-peer fundraising, which is a particularly valuable effort right now when many people are low on funds, but at home with time to reach out to their networks and pool together a larger amount.

If it’s your first time starting a personal fundraising page, check out this helpful resource: How to Raise Money For the Causes You Love. This goes over the basics and shares tips on asking for donations with confidence and getting your friends and family on board.

3. Share a Campaign on Social Media
Many people are trying to work from home, care for children or family members, and maintain some semblance of normalcy. If this is you, spreading awareness is a great way to show support if you don’t make a donation or have a ton of time to dedicate.

Being an advocate for causes you care about will help spread the nonprofit’s mission and potentially earn them donations. As a bonus, you are also spreading uplifting news with your friends and family. Seeing dedicated work from nonprofits can make people feel more hopeful, at a time when we can control so little.

You can send campaigns directly to family and friends, or simply share on social media.

4. Attend a Virtual Fundraising Event
Whether you planned on running a 5K this spring or couldn’t attend a local fundraising event in person, this is now a great time to get involved and support nonprofits. Many organizations have turned an existing in-person event into a virtual event to keep their mission moving forward and their community engaged.

Events range from video game tournaments to galas to virtual 5Ks. Many nonprofits included a virtual run/walk component to their in-person events even before COVID-19, as it’s a great way to include supporters who aren’t geographically able to attend. Now, it’s the perfect time to sign up for a virtual campaign like an endurance event, run on your own at home, and simultaneously ask for donations from friends and family to support the cause.

Some nonprofits send a race bib or other branded swag and ask participants to share photos of them completing the event on social media so that participants feel a part of the larger event.

Since all fundraising events are being held virtually due to social distancing, you can check with local or national nonprofits for events to participate in.

5. Sign Up to Make a Recurring Donation
Sustainable giving in the form of a small monthly donation helps nonprofits plan ahead for the future, and Classy platform data shows that recurring donors are over five times more valuable than one-time donors.

Not only are recurring donations critical for nonprofits, but this is also a great time to become a monthly donor because you can give smaller, more feasible amounts spread out over the year, rather than giving one lump sum.

Recurring gifts are a great way to show support for the causes important to you without breaking the bank.

Give Back and Stay Safe
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests taking breaks from watching, reading, or listening to the news to help prevent symptoms of stress related to the pandemic. You can combat this by sharing uplifting news with your networks about how nonprofits are galvanizing to help, and how others can get involved too.

Written by Meredith Kavanagh, Content Strategist at Classy

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