Given the recent downturn in our economy, I have many of our members asking how and where to give. Before we launch into different strategies, here are some immediate needs:
1) Blood donation. I know at our research hospital there is a blood shortage, and they are asking for donors. This is a great way to give of what you have without opening your pocketbook. There are probably local donor banks, but a good place to start is the American Red Cross.
2) Local Agencies. Many community foundations and United Way agencies have setup response funds to meet the needs of local communities. We don’t know the ins and outs of all our communities that are represented by our membership, but a great way to cross reference a particular charity is to search Charity Navigator. They have put together a list of national agencies and projects, but you can also search your local United Way or community foundation. You can also look at Charity Watch.
This is also a great way to avoid scams, which sadly, have already been popping up.
3) Think grassroots efforts. Are you young and healthy and have a neighbor who is on the front lines in the medical field with kids? Offer to sit for their kids or hire a babysitter through a service like WYNDY (they have gift cards). Are you a landlord for a local restaurant? Offer for them to pay their employers instead of paying rent for a month (if you can afford to be generous in this way). Have a neighbor who has been laid off? Give them unused gift cards that you have around the house. You don’t get a charitable write off for this, but it is neighborly.
Right now giving is very confusing. So stick with what you know.
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