Humans have an innate desire to help others in need, however they also have a natural response of self preservation that I would argue is stronger in most individuals. COVID will not only have an impact on our current economy, but for many non-profit organizations this pandemic will affect donations for many years to come. For some COVID will close doors and end services. We have seen this happen many times in our nation's history after natural and economic disasters.
Understandably, people feel compelled to help those affected in any way they can in the aftermath of a major disaster. This response is fueled even more by 2020's ability to share images and stories of the disaster world-wide through social media. This is great for those directly effected by the disaster and incredibly altruistic of the donors, but it is not great for non-profits who serve communities or clients who are not directly effected by the disaster. Here are a few reasons why your favorite non-profit organization will undoubtedly be negatively affected and some resources you can use to help them.
The first instinct after a disaster is to support relief efforts. After Katrina the U.S donated over 1 Billion dollars to Katrina relief. Where did that money come from in American's household budgets? Charitable Gifts. For some families they increase their donations for the year, but for many that means decreased gifts to the households regular non-profit recipients. Who sees the greatest effects of that decision? The clients of those non-profits that will experience a decrease in donations.
Another reason Non-profits get hit hard after disasters, Americans are selfish. Before you get upset with that idea, I mean selfish in the way that you put yourself and your family first. I think most of you reading this article will find that you do that. I have not seen many people forgo a meal to give to others in need, but what an incredible world that would be. I know my personal family's budget reflects paying our basic necessities first and then we decide where to allocate other assets. The natural reaction during a disaster, especially a disaster that includes a direct correlation to the economy is to save. Even the wealthiest re-evaluate during these time. We spend less all around. Most budgeted items that are not a priority are halted until we asses how this disaster is going to affect us personally. We all ask, "Will this effect our job security? Where will cuts be made? Will our household income decline or expenses increase?" The best we can hope is that the National Economy is strong giving these non-profits a fighting chance at survival.
I encourage you to continue to give during times like these, more so I'd ask you make a greater effort if you can to give to these organizations that will see a decline in funding sources. If you no longer can give monetarily, can you give your time or talents? Can you give in-kind to help the non-profit offset some costs? Below are some resources to help provide you with the information you need to make smart decisions when choosing organizations to donate to, to help you build connections and to learn more about the organizations.
Independent assessments of charitable organizations and tips on charitable giving are available at the following:
Charity Navigator, www.charitynavigator.org, provides resources and ratings on approximately 9,000 nonprofit organizations based on financial health and transparency.
Charity Watch, www.charitywatch.org, rates approximately 600 charities that have received over $1 million annually in public support and have been in existence for a minimum of three years. It also seeks to expose nonprofit abuses and advocates for donors.
Guidestar, www.guidestar.org, provides tax returns and financial information on over 1.8 million IRS-recognized tax-exempt organizations.