Millions of people around the world are being affected by the coronavirus, medically, financially, and emotionally. For anyone in a strong and stable life situation, this is an opportune time to evaluate how you can help others. While the list of philanthropic options is endless, we offer a few suggestions to consider.
First and foremost, you should examine your health and propensity to being high-risk to the virus before engaging in any social or personal contact to help others. We strongly encourage this for anyone who is over age 60 or who is medically compromised. Please take this seriously.
Make Charitable Contributions
One of the safest and easiest ways to help during the coronavirus is to make charitable contributions to organizations. Such contributions might be to groups that are directly helping those who are affected, or to organizations that might be struggling with an expected decline in charitable giving during the economic downturn.
If you’re looking for ways to help in your community, consider contacting your local or regional Community Foundation for suggestions on ways to help that align with your values and objectives.
In terms of how to make gifts, we offer a few suggestions:
- If you already have a charitable gift fund established, consider utilizing these committed funds first.
- If you’re 70 ½ or older and subject to taking required minimum distributions (RMDs), consider donating a portion or all of your required minimum distribution to charity as a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). You can donate up to $100,000 per person, per year, directly from your IRA. QCDs count toward your RMD, yet are excluded from your income, thus helping to reduce your taxable income, regardless of whether you itemize deductions.
- If you have appreciated securities, consider gifting a portion of your appreciated investments directly to charitable organizations. The full value of the gift counts for itemized deduction eligibility, but you avert paying the capital gain on the appreciation. The recipient organization is also exempt from any tax impacts as a tax-exempt organization.
- Finally, if the above options don’t apply, cash is always welcome.
Continue Paying People
Take a close look at those impacted by your social distancing precautions and consider if you’re in a financial position to continue supporting people who might no longer be getting paid. Great examples might include your housekeeper, hair stylist and dry cleaner. The true list could be expansive, so consider carefully what you can afford, and who might need the assistance the most.
Also consider the local businesses you support, and if there’s a way to help keep them in business. Examples include buying gift cards that can be used at a later date, or keeping monthly dues payments to gyms and other service providers, especially those offering continued services on a remote video basis.
Help Family Members
Families typically include a dispersion of economic well-being. If you’re more fortunate than others in your family and have relatives affected by coronavirus, consider offering a helping hand. Here’s what you need to know about family gifts and loans to know what is and isn’t permissible, and what’s recommended.
Social distancing is taking a toll on all of us. It’s important that we stay connected and part of an integral community. Make sure you’re reaching out to friends and family, particularly those who might be more isolated, such as the elderly in retirement communities that might be restricting visitors. Another suggestion is to create a virtual community association where people can ask for help, advice and assistance, while checking in on each other.
Look For Ways You Can Help
If you’re young and in good health you might consider a variety of ways you can help, while practicing safe social distancing. Examples might include volunteering at a local food bank, delivering food to vulnerable seniors and others at high-risk, contacting your local health services department to ask if they need volunteers, donating blood, etc.
The elderly are particularly at risk. Carefully consider how you can help those in your neighborhood by doing things like picking up groceries, helping them to set up grocery deliveries online, walking the dog, retrieving mail and the newspaper, getting meals, doing yardwork, etc.
You should always carefully consider your health, and the health of those in your immediate family with whom you have interactions before engaging in any social activity.
Lists of Organizations To Consider
- Donation and Volunteer Opportunities
BBB Wise Giving Alliance
- National Needs
American Red Cross – critical need for blood and platelets; 1-800-RED-CROSS
CDC Foundation – supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Food Insecurity for Seniors:
Meals on Wheels America – provides meals to vulnerable seniors
Food Insecurity for Children:
No Kid Hungry – provides grants to schools and food banks that feed children
Virtually every animal rescue organization needs additional help during COVID-19.
The Humane Society of the United States – adopt or foster a pet
Also check with organizations such as Petco and PetsMart which are heavily involved in caring for animals along with local organizations.
Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation – supports laid off servers and other workers
- Local Needs
The organizations noted below are specific to Northern Virginia and Fairfax County. We strongly encourage you to explore similar opportunities near you if you live elsewhere.
Families and Children:
Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) is partnering with several local organizations to help feed students who rely on the school breakfast and lunch program for regular meals. These include:
Committee for Helping Others (CHO)
Food for Others
Capital Area Food Bank
Foundation for FCPS – funds will be used to help nearly 60,000 students who live in poverty get access to distance learning, technology, school supplies, and nutrition
Volunteer Fairfax has lots of good local opportunities such as grocery shopping, Meals on Wheels, stocking food pantries, etc.
INOVA Health Foundation is accepting:
- Meals (from restaurants and certified catering companies) for their care teams firstname.lastname@example.org
- Monetary donations to their Emergency Preparedness Fund – covering outlays for additional staffing and specialized equipment
- Masks (unused) (no homemade masks of any kind)
- Hand sanitizer
- Face shields
- Paper disposable gowns
- Bleach/bleach wipes
- Inova Blood Donor Services
- A virtual note of gratitude to healthcare team members who are working extra shifts
Northern Virginia is home to a number of animal rescue and adoption groups, many of which are listed in this Northern Virginia Magazine issue.
Ani-Meals is also a local pet food pantry program to help families in financial difficulty.
SageVest Wealth Management cares about our clients, our community and our country. We encourage you to share these opportunities with others you know who might also be in a position to help. We also encourage you to share How Kids Can Give And Help During Coronavirus.
If you know people being financially impacted by the coronavirus, please share our advice on How To Manage Financially During The Coronavirus as well as Financial Help For Business Owners During The Coronavirus.
Finally, financial downturns can sometimes present silver linings. Check out our list of Financial Opportunities During Financial Downturns and feel free to Contact Us for assistance.