There was a report on the news tonight about how about 3 out of 4 charities are struggling this year, both in the amount of incoming donations and the demand for their services. This is hardly surprising when unemployment is around 7%, and worse regionally. It's 11% here in the Orlando area, and it peaked in May at 21%. It's not a good scene.
It's already been an unusual year for giving for me, because while I typically have some pet cause, I've found myself giving to civil rights organizations and professional associations, in addition to the usual non-profits. I really prefer giving to local organizations when possible, because it's easier to see the results, to help your community directly. I'm going to make some suggestions here, but I do think the closer to home, the better.
Feeding America has been on TV a lot in the last few months, because coupled with unemployment, uncertainty and the side effects of remote learning, a lot of families are having to choose between food and other bills. Of all the world's challenges, I still have a hard time believing that anyone can go hungry. This particular org has an incredible network and appears to be rated highly for transparency. The cool thing about their web site is that you can find local food banks and donate to them directly or get volunteering information. This might yield even better results, because in my case, the local charity is getting matching gifts from a car dealer, so it's like donating double!
Coats For Kids (Cleveland) has been around forever, and the local radio and TV stations were always a part of their fundraising drives. It came to mind today as the North Coast is facing its first big snow storm of the year. It's an example of the very local kind of group where you can see direct impact. I saw it in action first hand when I went to Cleveland schools, when certain classmates received new coats.
Give Kids The World Village is closed, since putting the families of children with life-threatening illness together in a pandemic is obviously not workable. They had to let go of most of their staff as well. Eventually, the village will have to rehire its entire staff, work to engage and schedule volunteers and get back to something resembling a routine. I realize that this isn't an urgent need, but I do think it's an important cause, as it always has been to the amusement industry. They have served families from every state, and probably in your community.
I think it's worth giving to the ACLU this year, because we've seen the unfortunate weaponization of our very form of government to make sure that we are not, in fact, all equal under the law. We have an outgoing president who has pissed on the foundations of free speech and tried to use the courts as a means to enforce executive action that contradicts the law. This kind of thing goes unchecked if an organization like the ACLU isn't there to challenge it in the courts. Related, it's still a good idea to donate to organizations like vote.org and others that battle voter suppression, which will not stop just because another presidential election is behind us.
And finally, I've given to the Actor's Fund this year because extended members or our social circles currently have no industry to work for. This includes performers and technicians here in our area. It's not just limited to Broadway, because the tours are idle and regional facilities aren't operating either. The arts are too important to ignore the people who normally bring us the joy of live performance, from on and off stage.
These are just suggestions, of course. I think the main point is that a lot of people need help in many different ways, and if you can help, I hope you will. If you can't help financially, maybe there are ways that you can lend your talents to help in another way, as safely as possible in the pandemic.