Americans give to charity like never before amid pandemic


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Forgotten Harvest food bank distributes goods before Christmas in Michigan

By Jonnelle Marte

(Reuters) – Hundreds of cars line up before dawn on weekly distribution days for Forgotten Harvest’s partner food stalls in the metro Detroit area, where visits have increased by 50% this year.

The need has grown as the coronavirus pandemic has closed offices and other businesses. So has the answer.

Monetary donations to the food bank are in a hurry to reach last year’s contribution and help fund a larger storage space and new mobile distribution points required to distribute food safely during the crisis.

“The only good thing about this pandemic is that it makes people care a little more about their neighbors,” said Christopher Ivey, marketing director for Forgotten Harvest, one of Michigan’s largest food banks.

The economic crisis triggered by the pandemic has widened the gap between “haves” and “have-nots” in the United States in new ways. People who can work from home, often in higher-income jobs, are doing well.

But over 20 million Americans trust unemployment benefits, and hunger and poverty are rising.

The widening gap has been accompanied by an outpouring of donations to local food banks, crowdfunding campaigns and other aid to economically devastated Americans.

Amazon (NASDAQ 🙂 shareholder Mackenzie Scott’s charity contribution of 4 billion. $, Which was announced earlier this month, may be the largest. But many Americans also chip in and donate $ 10 or $ 20, some for the first time ever.

Many nonprofits have suffered this year as the pandemic closed galas and fundraisers. But donations to some small and medium-sized charities increased 7.6% in the first nine months of 2020 during 2019, according to a recent analysis by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, which tracks nearly 2,500 groups. The number of donors has increased by 11.7%.

Early data show that the trend continued into December, typically the most active time for charity in the United States. Charities received $ 2.47 billion in donations on December 1, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving known as GivingTuesday, a 25% increase from 2019.

“People give like we’ve never seen before,” said Woodrow Rosenbaum, data manager for GivingTuesday.

Much of it comes in small dollar amounts, suggesting that people across the income spectrum are increasing their contributions, Rosenbaum said.

Approx. 70% of donations to campaigns on GoFundMe were under $ 50 this year, up from 40% in 2019, according to a spokesman for the fundraising site.

“What we have now is much more collective action,” Rosenbaum said.

America’s Food Fund, which launched this year, raised over $ 44 million on GoFundMe, the largest campaign ever on the fundraising site. Long-term programs such as the United States Post Office’s Operation Santa, which matches donors with needy families sending letters to a special North Pole address, report unprecedented support.

Jonathan Cummings, CEO of Revive South Jersey, a ministry that started in 2012 to guide English, guide and provide community-based housing assistance, says a “groundwell” of volunteers signed up to deliver food every two weeks after the organization realized that many of the families it supports struggled to afford groceries.

Give Tuesday Donations tracked by Share Omaha, a Nebraska organization that supports local nonprofits, nearly doubled this year from 2019 to over $ 3 million, with a third come from first-time donors. When the group earlier this year asked volunteers to pack meals for the homeless and other tasks, it received 700 applications, compared to the 200 monthly average.

“Even if people are out of work or coming on the field, they will give back to the community,” said Marjorie Maas, CEO of the organization.

Janette McCabe was one of hundreds of people waiting in cars before sunrise Monday before Christmas in a parking lot in Warren, Michigan, at a Forgotten Harvest food bank distribution.

McCabe and her husband recently lost their jobs and have been addicted to food stamps. She has been coming to the distribution of the food bank for about a month and a half.

“The volunteers are amazing,” McCabe said. “I do not know what we would do if we did not have them.”

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