I don’t have to tell you that COVID-19 has drastically interrupted our way of life. People all around the world are being affected physically, financially, mentally, and emotionally but it isn’t just an individual problem. It is also putting a strain on our businesses, homes, and communities. Everyone is in this together but not everyone is going through the same storm. As a business owner, you may be feeling the need to step back from your typical giving programs. But as a significant part of your community, your continued giving could benefit everyone.. There are many creative ways to give back and not all of them include physical money out of your pocket. Here are four tips for your company as you give back to your community during this historic time.
1. Donate to nonprofits helping to respond to COVID-19
Uncertain times are creating more needs for everyone but even more so, for vulnerable populations that nonprofits serve. There are new needs that are arising each day and nonprofits are now under even more financial strain. The increase in needs across the community requires more resources that nonprofits don’t have. Additionally, the donors and volunteers that regularly support these organizations are also facing hard times and fear for their safety. Many nonprofits are also having to cancel or postpone most of their usual programs and fundraising events out of concern for public safety. All of these factors leave nonprofits, who have limited financial reserves, to begin with, in a difficult spot.
So how can you help? If you are in a financial position to do so, you should consider making a donation to a nonprofit organization that is helping make a difference during this crisis. These organizations are serving the most vulnerable populations and will be most affected by the virus’ spread and the associated economic impact. All nonprofits will need your help during this time so if you’re able, choose one or a couple that support causes you are passionate about. Your support can be in the form of financial giving or volunteering your time or even expertise.
2. Volunteer your time or expertise.
Some individuals are at higher risk due to age or medical conditions and will need to restrict their usual commitments in the coming weeks and months. This could leave nonprofits shorthanded in delivering critical services. As potential volunteers decrease, needs will increase, as we mentioned above,-for example, demand will likely increase for food pantries and other services, also increasing the need for volunteer time to deliver.
So now is a great opportunity for you to reach out to local charities and ask how you can best support them with your time, keeping safety in mind for you, your family, and your employees of course. Just as you’re working toward creating the safest environment for your employees, nonprofits are making adjustments to keep volunteers and those they serve safe. But perhaps you feel safer helping from home. Search online for volunteer opportunities that are just as needed to keep a charity going, such as assisting with grant writing, serving as a crisis counselor on a hotline service, or assisting with marketing services. Volunteering could fill an important gap for a nonprofit and help keep them in business and impact the community for years to come.
3. Communication is key
Ideally, we hope that your business is in a position to give back but if you are needing to pause your programs remember communication is key. We suggest that you don’t remove the link to your giving request form or ignore requests coming in. Instead, make the appropriate temporary adjustments to your form and/or email templates to help communicate better with requestors. That way, not only are you showing you still care but you are also still capturing data about the organizations that are looking for your support so that you can connect with them down the road. Below are just a few suggestions as you’re tweaking your communications.
- Update the event calendar for 90 days out. With a majority of events in the next few months being canceled or postponed, you don’t want to be receiving requests for the next couple of months. Instead, set a new lead time so that requestors can only ask for donations on events that are at least a certain number of days out.
- Be transparent about the effects of COVID-19 on your company. Let requestors know with a short statement above your request form how your company has been affected and more importantly how it might affect their donation request. For example, you might be limiting your donations or pausing them all together for a certain amount of time.
- Send a bulk denial & create an email template. This will help you be transparent but also efficient. Be sincere and genuine in the approach and let requestors know the current company’s status and why the request may be denied.
4. Use your company voice to advocate, inform, and encourage.
Now more than ever, people are anxious and fearful of what’s next. Like you, many want to help but are unsure of what they can do as individuals to help. Overcoming our current circumstances requires a team effort and is too big for any one individual or group to tackle.
Your business has built up the trust of your community and has an opportunity to be an encouragement for others. Share stories on social media and through email about how you are coping during this time. Be a voice for how people can help each other in this time of social distancing while staying safe. Be intentional to learn about how people are being affected and what needs they have; share that information. Tell people what you are doing to make a difference and remind people to keep supporting charities they care about. Encourage others to join or give back financially if you decide to get involved in volunteer opportunities. Seeing your example will help those in your network to realize that they can take action too. Social distancing shouldn’t stop us, as a community, from helping others and speaking up for those in need. Utilize your network to inspire others into action.