3 ways to help people who are out of work right now

Millions of people are still out of work as the U.S. economy tries to revive itself throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Here's how to help those who are unemployed.


The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the U.S. economy, with half of Americans saying that they or someone in their household has lost their job or otherwise lost income, according to an April NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll. Even though 4.8 million jobs were added in June 2020, tens of millions of people are still hurting for work throughout the country.

If your situation is more stable, though, there are still ways to help others who really need it. 

Large gatherings for events like concerts and theater, for example, are "going to take a long time to come back," says Ernie Tedeschi, economist at financial advisory firm Evercore. Various organizations continue to raise money and offer grants to people like performers and bartenders, many of whom don't know when they'll be able to start working again.

Here are three ways to help those in need of an income right now.

Donate to people in hard-hit industries

Theater workers, touring musicians, even actors and tech people from the world of film and television don't know when they'll be able to get back on stage or the screen to entertain audiences. Broadway, specifically, announced it wouldn't be opening its doors again until sometime in 2021.

Organizations like The Actors Fund, Broadway Cares, and MusiCares have each set up funds where people can donate specifically to Covid-19 relief for members of their communities, with each organization using the funds for medical assistance, work placement assistance, and one-time grants of $1,000 or $2,000 for those in their industries.  

Broadway performer shares what it takes to have a career in theater

Video by David Fang

From restaurants to hotels, the hospitality industry, too, was hit hard by the pandemic. According to recent CNBC reporting, hotel demand will not return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023.

For those typically working in food and hospitality, organizations like the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation, One Fair Wage, and Unite Here have set up Covid-19 relief funds providing cash assistance, helping with health insurance coverage, and retraining workers for new jobs as the industry finds its footing.

Donate to workers at your favorite establishments

Many businesses, from movie theaters to restaurants, set up their own GoFundMe campaigns for their specific furloughed or laid-off workers. If there's a particular business you've frequented and want to direct assistance to, check out its website and see if there's a way to help its workers.


Donate within your community

If you want to find individuals to help directly, check out crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe and Indiegogo. For example, GoFundMe centralizes Covid-19-related fundraising campaigns in one hub, organized by subject matter like "families" and "community."

Another option is peer-to-peer giving platform leveler, in which donors can give to people in need directly, without a third party like a nonprofit or fundraising site serving as the middleman.

How it works: A potential donor logs onto leveler's website and selects the "distribute" option. The site then uses their computer's IP address to locate them and presents five different people in their area who need financial help.

Not much is revealed about each recipient. What donors see is where they're from in their shared state, what line of work they're in (production, music, the arts, for example), and a blurb they've filled out about themselves describing their current situation. There's also a link to the person's PayPal or Venmo account, which then enables a donor to send them money directly.

There are currently 5,700 recipients on the site, spanning from California to Alabama to New York and even Puerto Rico, says founder Alessandra De Benedetti. Donors typically give anywhere from $5 to $30 to each receiver.

"People have been able to do telemedicine or get groceries or pay their electric bill [with help from leveler funds]," she says. "It's a very punk project."

Regardless of where and how you choose to give, it's important to do your due diligence. Consumers have lost an estimated $77 million to fraud related to the coronavirus. Verifying that a nonprofit or campaign is legit and understanding how much of your donation will go to people in need can go a long way in ensuring that your efforts make a difference.

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