On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 (an abbreviation for coronavirus disease 2019), commonly known as the novel coronavirus, a global pandemic. At that time, WHO reported more than 118,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in 114 countries. In the U.S., 1,524 cases of COVID-19 had been reported to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) since January 12, 2020. The date of onset for the first reported case in the U.S. was January 14, 2020. This figure does not include cases among people who repatriated to the United States from Wuhan, China and Japan, nor does it include U.S.-identified cases for which a date of illness onset hadn’t yet been reported.
By March 25, 2020, the number of presumptive positive and confirmed cases reported to the CDC in the U.S. since January 21, 2020 skyrocketed to more than 54,000, with COVID-19 cases being reported by all 50 states. The U.S. Government, as well as individual states, are taking significant actions with the goal of slowing the transmission of the virus, a phenomenon known as “flattening the curve.” By implementing measures such as social distancing, limiting gatherings of 10 or more people, and isolating those who have been exposed to or tested positive for the virus, the hope is that the virus will spread more slowly, reducing the number of cases requiring intensive medical intervention at one time, instead spreading out the demand over a longer period. These measures are necessary to avoid overwhelming the healthcare system, so that doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers are better able to meet the needs of patient populations and have adequate equipment and supplies (such as ventilators and personal protective equipment like masks and gloves) to properly care for them.
While it’s clear that these measures are necessary to slow the spread of the virus and save lives, the economic consequences are devastating. Businesses have been forced to dramatically alter their operations. Restaurants are ceasing dine-in services, limiting services to delivery and take-out only, and non-essential businesses such as retail stores, bars, and hair salons have been asked to close for a minimum of two weeks. While some workers have transitioned to working from home, hundreds of thousands of workers in industries such as travel and hospitality have been laid off or had their hours significantly reduced. Schools across the country have been cancelled for two weeks or more, leaving many children from food-insecure families without access to the guaranteed breakfast and lunch they typically receive at school. Families who won’t be receiving a paycheck in the coming weeks aren’t able to pay their rent, mortgage, utilities, and other bills and worry about how they’ll survive this crisis.
The federal government and many state government leaders, particularly those in states that have had substantial numbers of COVID-19 cases requiring significant mitigation efforts, are beginning to consider and implement various policies and measures to help their residents get through the crisis. But these measures may not come soon enough for some families. If you’ve been fortunate enough to have a safety net or are able to continue earning a living by working from home, you may be wondering what you can do to help those less fortunate. That’s why we’ve put together this list of coronavirus-related charities and organizations you can donate to (or volunteer with) to help people in need.
Below, you’ll find both international and national organizations who are taking action to make a difference, state and local organizations for those who want to help their friends and neighbors on a more local level, and fundraising efforts focused on specific populations, such as artists and creative workers, freelancers and gig workers who aren’t eligible for unemployment and may face unique challenges during crises like COVID-19. You’ll also find organizations making efforts to ensure that school children have access to healthy meals, and charities and groups raising funds to help ensure access to distance learning materials and books during lengthy school closures. If you’re looking for ways to help, browse the categories below and consider donating to one of these worthy organizations or volunteering your time locally to deliver food and supplies to high-risk community members:
- National Organizations & Groups
- Global Charities & Foundations
- State & Local Charities & Organizations
National Organizations & Groups
This fund was created to help professionals in the performing arts and entertainment industry meet expenses related to COVID-19. Your donation helps support the vital social service programs of The Actors Fund, including emergency financial assistance, health insurance, counseling and the operation of The Friedman Health Center for the Performing Arts.
Your donation to the Cleveland Clinic’s response helps to support its swift response efforts, including identifying ways to test for virus exposure more rapidly, establishing best practices for patient care and caregiver protection for hospitals and providers around the world, directing research efforts to inform critically needed treatments and a possible cure for COVID-19, and more.
Feeding America is a nationwide network of food banks providing food to people in need. They’ve started a COVID-19 Response Fund to help provide support and relief to those affected by the pandemic. In addition, you can search a nationwide database of food banks to find a food bank near you if you wish to make a larger impact locally.
Feeding the Frontline is a grassroots effort aiming to bring communities together to help the restaurant industry while at the same time providing food to healthcare providers working in hospitals and urgent care centers, first-responder stations, vulnerable populations in neighborhoods who cannot leave their homes, local hourly workers who are concerned about making ends meet, and families who relied on schools to provide meals for their children. Anyone can set up an effort in their own community using the process established by Feeding the Frontline.
First Book has been providing equal access to quality education for kids since 1992. Your donation will help First Book in its efforts to deploy more than 7 million books to children in need across the country who are currently out of school due to COVID-19-related shutdowns.
Freelance Co-op has established an emergency fund to support freelance workers who are suffering from a loss of income in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Emergency funds are used to support freelancers who are facing unexpected childcare expenses due to school shutdowns, basic living expenses to compensate for lost gigs and non-payment resulting from the crisis, and unexpected medical expenses.
Meals on Wheels provides a valuable service to our nation’s seniors by delivering nutritious meals to seniors facing physical mobility and financial challenges. Your donation helps support Meals on Wheels efforts during the COVID-19 crisis, as their services are needed more than ever before.
No Kid Hungry is a “movement of teachers, chefs, community leaders, parents, lawmakers and CEOs with a shared belief: no kid in America should go hungry.” The organization estimates that children will miss 101 million meals due to school coronavirus-related school closures this week alone. By donating, you’ll help No Kid Hungry make sure kids get the healthy meals they need throughout school closures.
The PenFed Foundation’s COVID-19 Emergency Financial Relief Program supports military families who are experiencing health or financial impacts in the wake of the pandemic.
Your donation to PSJH will help provide necessary supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks, gowns, face shields for PSJH caregivers. Funds will also be directed towards research in the fight against COVID-19 and care for those who are most vulnerable.
The Red Cross is facing a severe blood shortage due to the coronavirus crisis due to an unprecedented number of blood drive cancellations. Search by zip code to find a Red Cross location near you and make an appointment to give blood if you’re able. You can also support the urgent humanitarian needs of the Red Cross with a monetary donation.
The United Way helps people in need access critical information and services like food and shelter through the United Way network. The United Way’s COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund will support struggling communities in the wake of the crisis by supporting local United Ways and 211, a valuable information resource in times of crisis.
The USBG National Charity Foundation is raising funds to support the bar industry community, providing emergency funds to help bartenders coping with a loss of income and tips during the pandemic crisis.
Global Charities & Foundations
Amref Health Africa is transforming Africa’s healthcare from within. The organization has partnered with Kenya’s Ministry of Health to improve surveillance, early detection, and track the spread of the disease. Your donation will help support their efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Africa.
Join the CDC Foundation’s efforts to combat coronavirus by donating to the Combat Coronavirus crowdfunding campaign. The funds raised by the CDC Foundation will help serve the many needs that arise during the emergency response to the crisis that the federally-funded CDC can’t cover.
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy has created a COVID-19 response fund to help support preparedness, containment efforts, response and recovery activities for those affected by COVID-19, as well as for responders.
Direct Relief works both within the United States and internationally to equip doctors and nurses with essential resources to care for the world’s most vulnerable. In response to COVID-19, Direct Relief is providing protective equipment to keep healthcare workers safe and supplying medical supplies to support patient care.
Feed My Starving Children partners with in-country food partners who distribute FMSC meals in schools, orphanages, clinics and feeding programs around the world. Donate to help FMSC provide nutritional and economic stability to vulnerable families during this crisis.
Gates Philanthropy Partners has two funds: the Combating COVID-19 Fund, supports organizations to develop the most promising vaccines and diagnostics and protect the most vulnerable people, and the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator Fund, which will help organizations expedite the process of getting new treatments to market quickly.
Give2Asia’s Coronavirus Fund supports frontline health workers and institutions responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic through partnerships with leading Chinese nonprofit organizations.
GlobalGiving’s Disaster Recovery Network has created a Coronavirus Relief Fund to support immediate and long-term relief and recovery in vulnerable communities during the pandemic crisis.
Good360 has supplied PPE both domestically and internationally with the support of The UPS Foundation and is supporting its nonprofit partners through the pandemic. Organizations can contact Good360 to donate goods and supplies for response and prevention efforts, and the organization also accepts monetary donations.
Your donation to the La Jolla Institute for Immunology (LJI) will help support LJI’s infectious disease research, which is crucial to expediting the discovery process for new therapies and vaccines for emerging diseases such as COVID-19.
Lutheran World Relief is raising $250,000 to fund a response to the novel coronavirus to help ensure the virus doesn’t spread to communities already struggling with poverty and illness.
MAP International provides medicines and health supplies to people in need around the world. Your donation will help MAP International serve two billion people around the world with fever-reducing medications, gloves for healthcare professionals, clean water and Disaster Health Kits for families to reduce the spread of disease.
MedShare has donated more than $1.3 million worth of aid in response to the pandemic, including more than 2.8 million masks and nearly 200,000 isolation gowns. Your donation will help ensure that MedShare can continue to provide vital supplies to healthcare professionals, clinics, and hospitals in the U.S.
Partners in Health has teams on four continents working to protect the most vulnerable, build health systems, and save lives during this unprecedented crisis. Partners in Health has more than 30 years of experience fighting pandemics, and your donation will help in the fight against COVID-19.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is raising funds for its COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund. Your donation will help support the worldwide response coordinated by WHO, including WHO’s work to track and understand the spread of the virus, ensure patients get the care they need, ensure frontline workers have access to critical supplies and information, and to accelerate efforts to develop vaccines, tests, and treatments.
A donation to the WorldVentures Foundation supports the organization’s efforts to help the people of Wuhan, China as they cope with the pandemic crisis. The WorldVentures Foundation is supporting the Chinese government to help fulfill the demand for protective masks, gowns, and other medical items, as well as working with health authorities to educate communities and provide awareness and protection.
State & Local Charities & Organizations
Food Banks & Pantries
In addition to the national food bank networks and charities listed above, there are many local organizations serving cities or regions around the U.S. These groups aim to reduce food insecurity for people and families in need, and many are taking steps to ensure that local school children who typically rely on public schools for breakfast and lunch continue to receive meals during this time of crisis.
You can search Feeding America’s database to find food banks local to you in the Feeding America network, but there are also many independent groups serving the needs of local communities. Here are just a few of the many local food banks and charities, including some in the Feeding America network and other independent groups and organizations:
- Arlington Eats
- Cambridge and Reservoir Church Feed Cambridge Families
- Project Bread
- The Greater Boston Food Bank
Washington, DC Region:
Your Local United Way
In addition to the national United Way listed earlier in this article, you might want to make a more direct impact on your local community with a donation to your local United Way. There are nearly 1,800 local United Ways around the world, and the United Way website includes an easy to use search tool to find the United Way nearest to you. Here are just a few local United Ways:
- Oshkosh Area United Way
- United Way of Central Carolinas
- United Way for Southeastern Michigan
- United Way of Central Massachusetts
- United Way of Champaign County
- United Way of Greater Nashville
- United Way of Greater New Bedford
- United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
- United Way of Tri-County (Massachusetts)
Local Homeless Shelters
Homeless shelters are facing unique challenges as they seek strategies for keeping the homeless population, as well as their staff and volunteers, safe during the pandemic. Search the national Homeless Shelter Directory to find homeless shelters in your local area to make donations or find out how you can help. In addition to homeless shelters, the database also includes homeless service organizations.
State & Regional Funds Supporting Artists & Creatives and Other Interest Groups
It’s not just organizations that are stepping up to the plate to help communities and individuals in need; there are many smaller groups and individuals raising funds to help interest groups such as artists and creative professionals, some who have been particularly hard-hit financially in the wake of the crisis. Here are just a few of the many Go Fund Me campaigns and other fundraising efforts supporting people in need:
- Chicago Artists Relief Fund
- Greater Cincinnati Artist Relief Fund
- Help Hourly Workers During The Coronavirus Crisis
- NYC Low-Income Artist/Freelancer Relief Fund
- NYC The Indie Theater Fund Rapid Relief Emergency Fund
- Orange County Arts Relief Fund
- PGH Artists Emergency Fund
- The Record Co. Boston Music Maker Relief Fund
- Theatre Washington Emergency Fund, Taking Care
- Union Capital Boston