The Golden State is no stranger to crises. Californians know how to cope with hardship and come out stronger on the other side. How? By meeting moments of urgency with a steadfast spirit of generosity.
In the face of COVID-19 we understand we are living through a new kind of challenge. All at once our lives and communities have been disrupted physically, socially and economically.
There is a bright spot. As you read this, nonprofits across California are stepping up to meet unprecedented needs in their communities. They are supporting families with food, supplies and rental support. They are opening shelters for people experiencing homelessness, delivering hot meals to isolated seniors, and operating food pantries amid school closures. They are staffing mental health hotlines and providing childcare to essential workers. They are mobilizing in remarkable ways to meet the needs of all Californians, especially the most vulnerable among us.
Nonprofits are doing all of this in the face of their own uncertain futures as spring fundraisers are canceled, revenue streams dry up, and work is more difficult amid shelter-in-place orders.
Community foundations are here to support them, and we need your help now more than ever. Here are three ways you can make an impact.
Do you already support a favorite nonprofit? Now is the time to consider increasing your giving, if you are able, to help them get through this turbulent time. You can also donate to one of the special COVID-19 relief funds that are up and running at community foundations across California. These funds are already deploying tens of millions of dollars through grants, scholarships, low-interest loans, impact investments and more. Community foundations specialize in building long-term relationships with high-impact local nonprofits. They know where help is needed and how to get it there quickly.
Your community foundation, along with tools like VolunteerMatch and statewide initiatives like California Volunteers, can help guide you to local nonprofits that need volunteer support. Food banks, meal delivery programs, and other essential community
programs are suffering a critical shortage of volunteers at the same time that demand for their services is skyrocketing. Be sure to follow all health and safety guidelines if you volunteer in person. Prefer to stay in? VolunteerMatch has a directory of “virtual volunteering” opportunities that let you donate your time and skills to nonprofits across the country without leaving home.
We know there are urgent, unmet needs in all of our communities. We also know the needs were there before the current crisis, and they will be there long after it has passed. You may have heard COVID-19 referred to as “the great equalizer,” but early data show that its impacts are anything but equal. You can work to better understand your community’s needs through a lens of systemic and historical inequities, and discover nonprofits working to build a better future for all Californians. Ask yourself how your charitable dollars, your volunteer hours, and your policy advocacy can do more to support long-term solutions and opportunities. Ask your community foundation how you can join initiatives where local nonprofits, or the community foundation itself, may already have taken on a leadership role.
Someday we will find ourselves on the other side of this particular moment in history and reflect on how we rose to meet it. When we look back, what do we want to see? Did we pull away from the needs of our neighbors, or did we pull together to protect and support each other while building a better future for our state? Community foundations can be the link between your generosity and your impact