The following opinion piece by United Way CEO Moira Weir appeared online in The Cincinnati Enquirer on Dec. 2.
This is definitely a holiday season unlike any we’ve ever experienced.
At a time when thoughts turn to giving, there is no shortage of options. The coronavirus has pushed many to the brink, increasing need tremendously. Unemployment in industries such as restaurants and travel has a growing number of parents and children who never before sought help wondering where their next meal will come from or whether they can keep a roof over their head.
At the same time, the normal holiday relief safety net is compromised. The robust nonprofit sector in our region, which normally operates with very low overhead, is doing its best to manage a tremendous increase in need this year. Many donors, along with the nonprofits normally manning the front lines, are strapped themselves, victims of the pandemic. And for those who want to give of themselves, necessary virus precautions make it difficult for physical interaction, whether in the soup line or hand-to-hand giving.
At United Way, we offer many safe ways to help your community in its greatest time of need.
First, know the nonprofit system of care in our region is alive. Nonprofit staff throughout Greater Cincinnati work tirelessly, much like our region’s healthcare heroes, doing their best to provide urgent food, shelter and mental health relief all while putting themselves at risk.
But there are wounds. Sixty five percent of organizations in our region are delivering services differently and shouldering the costs of those pivots, such as transitioning home visitation services to virtual platforms. Many nonprofits are reducing administrative costs and taking other measures to stay afloat. Twenty one percent of agencies surveyed have discontinued programs or services, with an additional twenty percent considering it or planning to end services.
United Way supports nearly 140 partner agencies annually. To date, you’ve helped us generously raise more than $48 million in our annual campaign! We would not be here without you, but the campaign is not over. We are working hard to raise the $2 million needed to reach our goal of at least $50 million by the end of the year. It will take all of us to get there. If you have the ability to give a little more this season and can help us spread the word to close the gap, we greatly appreciate it. The need has never been greater in our community. Here’s how: https://www.uwgc.org/donate.
And there are other ways you can help, without leaving the safety of your home.
- Our Virtual Product Drive offers a safe and easy way to give. Complete the short form and you’ll receive a link to needed items, powered by Amazon Registry, which we’ll distribute to local organizations supporting food pantries, after-school programming, temporary housing for families, services for older adults and more. While you’re there, please consider choosing United Way of Greater Cincinnati as your AmazonSmile charitable organization – increasing your giving to our community.
- Our Holiday Notes of Encouragement to isolated seniors is another creative way of helping. Pen an encouraging letter to lift the spirts of someone who may be alone over the holidays because of the pandemic. We’ll make sure they get into the right hands.
- Our Wish List partnership with The Cincinnati Enquirer kicks off this week and offers tangible ways to see your donation in action.
This season, it may be harder than ever to give. But it has never been more important.