Q&A: Smart Giving During a Crisis

5 ways to make an impact beyond the moment

This article originally appeared in the Fall 2020 edition of the Smart Giver Newsletter. Not on our mailing list? Sign up here to receive the next edition in your mailbox.

Q: I gave in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and/or the nationwide uprisings. How can I continue to support these causes now and in the future?

A: Minnesotans are generous with their time and money, especially in times of crisis. According to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, it is estimated that Minnesotans give over $4 billion a year in charitable giving. 

We applaud your decision to give and encourage you to continue your commitment beyond this moment. Some of us might also be wondering: What if I haven’t donated recently? Have I missed the right opportunity to donate?  We also emphasize that your support—in the form of donated time, money or resources—is always welcome and valued. 

Support doesn’t have to look like a one-time donation in a time of immediate crisis, though. Long-term action steps you could take now include: 

1. Donate your time.

If an organization you’ve donated to is looking for volunteers, consider giving some of your time to support their work. This might look like phone-banking during a fundraiser or working a shift at a food shelf or shelter. Alternatively, consider serving on a nonprofit committee or board of directors. Many meetings are being held virtually right now, making it a safe, accessible way to engage. You’ll support the work of the organization, and you’ll get a glimpse of how your donation benefits a community.

2. Be an advocate. 

Sharing on social media is a great way to expand the reach of a nonprofit organization, especially now, when so much is taking place in virtual spaces. If a nonprofit you’ve supported has shared a great resource—a blog post, social media post, or even written communication—consider sharing it with your family and friends, especially those who might also be drawn to their mission.

Volunteers wearing gloves and mask place food in plastic bags for donations

Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

3. Trust during a crisis. 

Right now, you might be looking for follow-up from an organization to understand how your support is being used. Nonprofits always welcome calls and emails from donors, but now is the time to use your resources as a Smart Giver to help organizations best focus on their work. You can conduct your own research by looking over an organization’s IRS Form 990 or subscribing to updates from a nonprofit. Our Meets Standards® nonprofit profiles on our website are also a great place to start.

4. Set up a recurring donation.

Right now, we’re seeing many organizations confront tightening budgets—and some nonprofits manage a welcome but overwhelming influx of first-time donations. Consider making a recurring donation to extend beyond this moment. An ongoing donation within your budget is a way to sustainably support an organization whose mission you care about.

5. Give to the Max Day

Keeping track of a nonprofit’s major events is a great way to stay involved. For nonprofits here in Minnesota, Give to the Max Day (November 19) is our biggest giving holiday. Save the date to support the organizations that mean the most to you!

We encourage you to keep reaching out to us with any questions. We want to be a resource for you as you navigate giving decisions now. Send us a note at info@smartgivers.org, a letter to the address at the bottom of this page or give us a call at 651-224-7030. 

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