Did You Get Money You Don’t Need From the Feds? Here Are Some Ideas of Where to Donate It.

Those of you who have been following the weekly updates on how I’m doing, and how my city (New York City) is doing with the coronavirus, will know that I am in a pretty stable situation professionally. As a result, I didn’t need the federal government to give me $1,200…yet I was given it anyway since many of us are receiving somewhere between $1,200 and $4,700.

If you are a person struggling to make ends meet, you need not feel guilty about using the money to help yourself financially. In fact, you’re the kind of person who was envisioned as benefiting the most from receiving the money.

However, if you are like me in that you don’t need the money, I strongly recommend that you give away the money in ways that help those less fortunate (because there are so many people less fortunate than you, in that case). However, you may be struggling to figure out how best to use the money you received to help others. In today’s post, I offer some suggestions of the types of places where you can donate your money, in no particular order:

  • Food banks: Right now, food banks are the way that many people are surviving during these times. However, food banks need financial resources as well as donations of canned and dry goods, and that’s where your donations can come in.
  • Services that deliver food to seniors and/or those with underlying health conditions: There are a lot of people who need food but can’t easily go out to get it because they fall into a population that is at risk for suffering a severe case of the coronavirus (seniors and those with underlying health conditions). That is where a service that delivers food to people can be so vital. I will likely donate some of my $1,200 to one such service.
  • Anything that helps our health care workers: I’m leaving this open-ended because there are so many ways to help our health care workers. The public hospital system in New York is accepting donations that will help support the day-to-day needs of their workers,[1] but the needs for hospital workers in New York may be different than what they are in another part of the United States.
  • Anything to support local small businesses: Many nonessential small business staff have been hit particularly hard by the coronavirus. As a result, some small businesses have started up crowdfunding campaigns to help their employees, some patrons of these businesses have looked to buy gift cards (in order to keep some sort of cash flow coming into the businesses), and some patrons of local restaurants have stepped up their support by ordering in or taking out with frequency. Regardless of the method of support, using your money to support your favorite local small businesses is money well spent.
  • Services that give support to those most vulnerable to physical, mental, and/or emotional harm during the coronavirus: This is a time when there is an elevated risk of domestic violence. This is also a time when some people in the LGBTQ+ community may be struggling while living with family who are highly rejecting of their identity. It is also a time when many people already struggling with their mental health may be struggling even more so. You may want to consider donating to an organization that helps provide support and/or services to a group of the population particularly vulnerable to harm during the coronavirus, such as one of the groups mentioned before.
  • Organizations that will help fight the spread of the coronavirus in places where health care infrastructure is poor: Okay, so for a developed country, the United States does not have a good health care infrastructure. However, this virus is poised to hit parts of the world that have health care infrastructure even worse than that of the United States. Therefore, an organization such as Doctors Without Borders, an organization that will help fight the spread of this virus in parts of the world where health care infrastructure is poor, is money well-spent.

Of course, this list, while somewhat extensive (I hope), is not comprehensive. With that in mind, if anyone here has other suggestions of types of places (or specific organizations) we should give our money to, please feel free to comment below! Hopefully, this list will provide the most fortunate among us an opportunity to think about where to donate, and might also make my readers going through hard times think about how they can best be helped during these times.

This is a “Blindly Just” post.


[1] https://www.nychealthandhospitals.org/donate/

Where to Donate and Where Not to Donate

I was going to post on a different topic this week, but given the events in Texas and Louisiana, I decided to go in a different direction.

I want to start this post by saying that my thoughts and prayers are with the people in Texas and Louisiana that are being hit hard by Hurricane Harvey. While I enjoy tracking storms (as I say in my own bio), I do not enjoy seeing people suffer like this. I hope that these areas recover and recover quickly.

Of course, some of us will try to help these areas recover quickly by giving to charities that are supposed to help hurricane victims. I deeply appreciate this desire, and people down in Texas and Louisiana will appreciate that desire as well.

However, I warn all of us to please be careful with where we give our money. I give this warning because not all charities do the positive work that they claim to do.

So how can people determine where they should or shouldn’t give their money? I have a few dos and don’ts, in no particular order:

  1. Saying this will be controversial, but don’t donate to the American Red Cross. I have to admit that this is somewhat personal, because my family in New York noticed after Superstorm Sandy that the Red Cross was more interested in photo-ops than helping people (an observation confirmed by a National Public Radio story two years later). These problems are well-documented, not just by an editorial I wrote while I was in college, but also by the sources I cited in my editorial (and, quite frankly, many sources not cited by my editorial). You want to give to a charity which has a good track record with natural disasters, and unfortunately the American Red Cross isn’t one of them.
  2. Don’t donate to a charity which lacks an established reputation. This seems obvious, yet there are so many scam charities which prey off of the big hearts of people.
  3. Do look at charity rating systems, such as Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau Wise Charity Alliance. Charity Navigator in particular is helpful because the organization’s pages for charities give you an idea of how transparent an organization is, what percentage of your donations go to the services a charity delivers, and more. These measurables are very important when you’re trying to determine whether to donate to a charity.
  4. Do research into what organizations have a presence in the area hit by the disaster. Speaking from my family’s experiences after Superstorm Sandy, some of the best work is usually performed by organizations that already had a presence in the area. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the best work in Louisiana and Texas after Hurricane Harvey is performed by organizations which already have a presence in that area.
  5. If there are any charities which did particularly good work after a natural disaster you experienced, do consider donating to said charities if they are going to be in the area hit by Harvey. You want to donate to a charity which has a positive track record with handling disasters, so there’s no better way to do that than donate to charities that helped you when you had a disaster. The only condition, of course, is that the same charity will be working in the areas hit by Harvey.

Even if you follow these dos and don’ts, there’s no guarantee that you will donate to the perfect organization. But hopefully this post has increased your chances of donating to a charity which helps people recover from Hurricane Harvey. After all, being blindly unjust in a situation like this is to give money that doesn’t go directly to victims, without even realizing that your money doesn’t go to the victims.