A guide to helping and getting help during the coronavirus crisis

By Mayra Cuevas, Chris Dawson, Jennifer Grubb and AJ Willingham, CNN
Updated November 25, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic is overwhelming, and one of the most excruciating parts for many people is the feeling of utter helplessness in the face of widespread suffering and hardship. CNN’s Impact Your World has compiled a list of donation opportunities and tips to help those affected by the crisis.

Click on a category or scroll down to browse a list of organizations, resources and ideas.

Need help? Most categories also include resources for financial, emotional or social support.

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Arts and culture

How to give

American Guild of Musical Arts Relief Fund: The AGMA is a labor union that represents artists involved in America’s operatic, choral and dance heritages. Their relief fund will support members who have lost opportunities and income during the coronavirus crisis.

Broadway Cares: This non-profit helps vulnerable people in the performing arts community, and has created an emergency fund for creative industry workers in New York who are impacted by the coronavirus crisis.

CERF+: This is a non-profit organization that builds financial security for artists in craft disciplines (like metalsmithing and sculpting), and provides advocacy and education opportunities. They have a fund specifically for artists affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The Actors Fund: TAF provides financial relief and promotes economic security for performing arts and entertainment professionals.

The Actor’s Fund of Canada: The AFC’s emergency assistance fund will help help Canadian arts and entertainment professionals maintain their health, dignity and ability to work through the crisis.

The Entertainment Industry Foundation: Among other things, the EIF helps people in the entertainment industry raise funds and awareness and advocate for positive change in times of crisis. Their Coronavirus Fund will provide relief to vulnerable people in the industry.

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts: The FCA, which promotes and supports innovative and emerging artists, has an emergency fund to support artists who have lost income from canceled performances or exhibitions.

MusiCares: This charity, established by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, provides relief to music industry professionals in times of crisis. Their Coronavirus Relief Fund is supported by major tech and streaming companies like Pandora, Spotify and Youtube Music.

How to help in your community

Commit: Purchase an annual membership to your favorite arts venue, museum or cultural heritage site to show them you’re in it for the long run.

Collect: Support local artisans by buying their work as gifts, or purchase other merchandise to support local acts.

Follow: Your favorite arts venue may be offering in special online programs during coronavirus restrictions. Follow and interact to show they’re making an impact.

Tune in: Search for and participate in virtual events from your favorite musicians or venues (even museums and galleries may offer some).

Education and technology

How to give

Donate a computer: The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has an urgent call for laptops, desktops, Chromebooks and tablets from corporate and governmental entities. Due to the global Covid-19 crisis, the demand for low-cost and no-cost computers for those in need far exceeds the current available supply.

National 4-H Council: Launched the FOURWARD Fund to support youth across all communities, with or without internet access, by ensuring all kids have access to the necessary resources.

How to get help

Affordable internet and Lifeline: Lifeline is a federal program that provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy for broadband services. To help during the pandemic, the FCC has temporarily waived Lifeline usage requirements and general de-enrollment procedures until November 30, 2020. Check out All Connect’s affordable internet guide for program details and other available options.

Low-cost computers: InterConnection offers computers for low-income individuals and families through their ConnectAll program.

No-cost computer lottery: CompUDopt is having a no-cost computer lottery for low-income students, with locations in Houston, Dallas, Chicago, New Orleans and Los Angeles.

PCs for People: No-cost computers, computer repair, internet service and learning resources for individuals and families below the 200% poverty level or currently enrolled in an income-based government assistance program.

Homeless communities

How to give

Covenant House: This human rights organization focuses on homeless youth and is taking donations to help protect youth across the country who are especially at risk during the coronavirus outbreak.

Family Promise: Working with over 200 communities in 43 states to make sure families impacted by current economic changes have what they need to stay housed.

The Salvation Army: Working with local, federal and medical leaders to provide coronavirus response, and has a fund to assist with food, help with utilities and provide safe shelter to homeless and disadvantaged people affected by the crisis.

How to help in your community

Donate food or funds: Find a local shelter in your community and contact them to see what they need, such as non-perishable goods, clothing or basic supplies.

Stay in touch: Like other vulnerable communities, unhoused people will face serious challenges even after the coronavirus outbreak is over. Consider volunteering or making another commitment in the future.

Meals and food support

How to give

Blessings in a Backpack: This organization helps feeds school children across the US, and is partnering with districts that have summer feeding programs to extend services while schools are shut down.

Convoy of Hope: Delivering meals through partners, churches and community organizations across the US. They have delivered 150 million meals and counting in response to the pandemic.

Feeding America: With a network of 200 food banks across the US, this organization is helping food banks support communities impacted by the pandemic.

FoodCorps: Working with school districts to ensure school meal sites can feed students who are out of school as well as their families.

GENYOUth: They are providing grants to schools to supply resources for meal distribution and delivery so students can be fed even when they are not at school during the coronavirus crisis.

Meals on Wheels: Provides home delivery of food to seniors who find themselves more isolated than usual.

Mercy Chefs has partnered with their food distributors to give free grocery meal boxes across Oklahoma, the Panhandle of Florida and Puerto Rico.. The non-profit is also sending recipes, strategies and protocols to volunteers, who will then package and distribute meals in their communities.

Operation Blessing is sending PPE to hospitals, providing hand washing stations in places like Honduras, Peru, and Kenya and distributing sanitizing kits in the U.S.

Save the Children: On the ground in 87 countries, the charity is distributing hygiene kits, educating communities about the coronavirus, delivering nourishing meals to children who can no longer rely on school for food and supporting teachers who are holding virtual classes.

United Way: They are using their Covid-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to support communities around the world, helping people most in need access food, shelter, vital information and more, through local United Ways and the 211 network (in the U.S.).

WhyHunger: Created a Covid-19 Rapid Response Fund to help the food insecure and launched a crowd sourced map to connect individuals with free meal sites, in the U.S. and some communities around the world.

World Central Kitchen has provided more than 30 million meals in more than 400 cities so far. The charity is also partnering with restaurants to provide jobs for their staff.

How to help in your community

Food Pantries.org: Use this national database to locate food pantries in local communities that you can contribute to.

Little Free Pantry: This organization is standing ready across the US, giving 24-hour neighborhood access to food and other necessities.

What CNN Heroes are doing

Stan Hays, one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes for 2017, founded Operation BBQ Relief to provide meals for natural disaster survivors and first responders. In response to the pandemic, Hays and his charity are delivering hot meals to veterans and the homeless in various parts of the country, including California, Missouri, and Pennsylvania.

Medical efforts

How to give

CDC Foundation created the Crush COVID campaign to focus on health equity, frontline workers and health protection campaigns.

Center for Disaster Philanthropy: This resource helps people make intentional and informed giving decisions during disasters. They have created the Covid-19 Response Fund to support preparedness, containment efforts, response and recovery activities for those affected by the virus and for the responders.

CORE (Community Organized Relief Effort) has partnered with community organizations and local governments across the country to make testing accessible.

COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund: This is a joint effort by the World Health Organization, UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation that supports diagnostic testing, treatment and vaccine research and distribution of medical supplies.

Direct Relief: This humanitarian aid organization is providing protective equipment and critical care medications for health workers around the world.

Doctors Without Borders is caring for patients, offering health education and mental health support, and providing training for vital infection control measures in health facilities around the world.

First Responders Children’s Foundation: Help for first responder families who are enduring financial hardship due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gary Sinise Foundation: Providing grants to first responders in need of personal protective equipment and giving financial assistance to service members, health care professionals, veterans, first responders and their families who have been impacted by the coronavirus.

Global Empowerment Mission: This relief and education organization is in its second phase of relief distributing cash cards to those severely impacted by Covid-19 and school kits containing hand sanitizer and masks.

Good360 works with their network of more than 90,000 non-profit partners to get highly needed products to people in need.

International Medical Corps: This organization of first responders is providing training, supplies and emergency medical response planning for at-risk countries.

La Jolla Institute for Immunology: Scientists in their network of laboratories are continuing their research to develop new therapies and vaccines.

Medical Teams International is donating PPEs, repurposing their mobile health vans to support hospitals with Covid-19 screenings and providing emergency dental clinics.

MedShare: So far, MedShare has donated 4.7 million units of PPE worldwide and will continue to raise money for medical supplies to fight the outbreak.

Partners in Health: Their Covid-19 response plan includes testing, dignified care, assisting local government response and mobilize a community of health care workers.

UNICEF USA: Delivering medical supplies to health workers around the world. They are also providing hygiene and medical kits to schools and health clinics to help keep children safe.

How to help in your community

Give blood: The nation’s blood supply is low. Local blood drives can be found through the American Red Cross, America’s Blood Centers, Blood Centers of America and the Advancing Transfusion and Cellular Therapies Worldwide. Some centers are also asking for convalescent plasma donations from individuals who have fully recovered from Covid-19.

Donate medical supplies: MedSupplyDrive is helping individuals and medical labs donate protective gear to hospitals in their area. Several national craft and sewing groups are also making masks to send to health care workers.

Donate hand-sewn face masks: Got a sewing machine at home? You can help by sewing cloth masks. The CDC cautions that fabric masks cannot be used in the care of Covid-19 patients, but are helpful in other areas of patient care.

Leave a message of support for our medical heroes: Share your own or listen to messages of gratitude, hope, love and support for our health heroes at the forefront of the Covid-19 pandemic. Leave your message by calling 1-877-226-HERO (1-877-226-4376).

Mental health

How to help in your community

Be a listening ear: Volunteer to be a crisis counselor for the Crisis Text Line. Helping others with the stress of this pandemic, through programs like this, or through neighbors and family, can benefit your own wellbeing too.

How to get help

Get informed: The Centers for Disease Control is offering a list of resources and guides for managing stress, anxiety and how to cope through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Get support: Free 24/7 crisis support is available by texting The Crisis Text Line at 741741. Online volunteers are also needed to help others as crisis counselors. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, 365-day-a-year crisis counseling and support to people experiencing emotional distress related to disasters. Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.

Counseling for health care professionals and essential workers: For The Frontlines is offering free 24/7 crisis counseling and support for health care workers dealing with anxiety, stress, fear, isolation or other difficult emotions experienced during the coronavirus response.

Get help with domestic violence: The National Domestic Violence Hotline has posted a “Staying Safe During Covid-19” guide for survivors and their families. Trained counselors are also available by phone 24 hours a day at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) and by chat at www.thehotline.org.

Know you’re not alone: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). They have also compiled this guide for Emotional Wellbeing During the Covid-19 Outbreak. Additional resources can be found on American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s website and at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.

Support for teens: Boys Town provides counselors for youth-specific online chat at this link. The TrevorLifeline offers a suicide prevention counseling service for LGBTQ teens, call 1-866-488-7386 or text START to 678678.

Support for LGBTQ community: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) National Help Center is providing confidential peer-to-peer support for youth, adults and seniors.

Find international resources: For support outside of the US, a worldwide directory of resources and international hotlines is provided by the International Association for Suicide Prevention. You can also turn to Befrienders Worldwide.

Refugees and international relief

How to give

Alight: Teams are providing lifesaving health care, clean water and other support to safeguard the vulnerable communities. The #InOurHands campaign has reached more than 54 million people with health and hygiene messages that can help stop the spread of the virus. Their goal is to reach 100 million people worldwide.

American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee: The JDC is ensuring the safe provision of supplemental food, medicines, medical care, hygiene supplies and training, as well as the deployment of programs to battle loneliness and retrain the unemployed.

American Jewish World Service: AJWS is working in 18 countries across Africa, Asia, Central America and the Caribbean to stop the spread of Covid-19. The non-profit is supporting local organizations distributing food, soap, hand sanitizer and protective masks—as well as installing handwashing stations in densely populated areas.

Americares: This is a health-focused relief and development organization that responds to people affected by poverty or disaster with life-changing medicine, medical supplies and health programs.

CAMFED: Supporting girls and young women with basic needs, education and distance learning resources.

CARE: Setting up isolation spaces in refugee camps, distributing home-quarantine kits and emergency supplies, ensuring proper sanitation and supporting and protecting aid workers.

Catholic Relief Services: Working on virus prevention and awareness campaigns, and distribution of hygiene kits in the most vulnerable communities around the world.

ChildFund International: Curbing child hunger by providing cash transfers directly to vulnerable families in the developing world, distributing handwashing stations, soap and educational materials, plus stepping up measures to protect children from violence and helping them continue learning at home.

COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund: This is a joint effort by the World Health Organization, UN Foundation and the Swiss Philanthropy Foundation supporting diagnostic testing, treatment and vaccine research and distribution of medical supplies.

Food for the Hungry: Working on health and hygiene, leadership development and disaster preparedness and helping vulnerable families with resources such as clean water and soap.

INARA: Founded by CNN Senior International Correspondent Arwa Damon, INARA is providing hygiene and food packages to Syrian refugee families who have lost their only income and have no savings. They are distributing in Lebanon and Turkey.

International Rescue Committee: The coronavirus can thrive among groups of people fleeing conflicts or political unrest. The IRC is providing additional protective gear, increasing funding to minimize supply chain disruptions and bringing in more medical staff across affected areas.

Jhpiego: As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this Johns Hopkins University affiliate, is focusing on interventions in 3 areas: maternal health, infection prevention and assistance to frontline health workers.

Mercy Corps: The Covid-19 Resilience Fund helps provide emergency supplies, food, clean water and support to vulnerable families and communities.

Oxfam: Increasing the delivery of soap, clean water and sanitation services. The non-profit is also building and upgrading hand-washing facilities.

Preemptive Love: Feeds quarantined families and creates digital jobs so refugees can work from anywhere.

Project Hope: This humanitarian NGO has mobilized teams in high-risk countries, to help support doctors and nurses on the front lines of the fight to save lives.

UNHCR: The UN Refugee Agency is stepping up health, water, sanitation and hygiene services to protect refugees and displaced people.

UNICEF: With offices in over 190 countries and territories, UNICEF is delivering assistance to children across the areas affected by Covid-19.

World Food Programme : Providing food aid for more than 11.6 million children who are no longer receiving school supported meals and maintaining supply corridors despite closed borders.

World Vision: Providing children in low-income families and schools with emergency kits of food and cleaning supplies and supporting health care workers on the front lines by distributing protective equipment in the US and abroad.

What CNN Heroes are doing

In 2017, Samir Lakhani was named one of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes for his work with his non-profit, the Eco-Soap Bank. Lakhani’s organization recycles discarded bars of soap from hotels and distributes them to people in need in Cambodia. Now, the Eco-Soap Bank is distributing soap to vulnerable communities to help stem the spread of Covid-19.

Restaurants and food workers

How to give

James Beard Foundation: This foundation, named after the legendary food writer, started the Open for Good campaign to support the recovery and rebuilding of independent, locally owned restaurants.

United States Bartenders Guild: The USBG is offering emergency grants for bartenders, their spouses, or their children through the Bartender Emergency Assistance Program.

How to get help

Get advice: The reservation app Seated has launched a hotline for restaurant owners to get advice from finance and law experts in the hospitality industry.

How to help in your community

Order takeout or delivery: Order meals from your local restaurants and tip generously!

Here is a guide to restaurants offering take-out and delivery:

Order from your local farmer: Check out options on Local Harvest, or look up your local farmer’s market to see If they have any online or delivery options.

Buy merch online: Some restaurants have online merchandise stores, including t-shirts, sauces, jams and relishes.

Order a gift card and use it later: This is a great idea to support other businesses as well. Hair salons, local shops, tourist attractions and even pet boarding facilities may offer gift cards, so you can show loyalty to local businesses even when you aren’t returning there yet.

Local for Later: This aggregator shows you local businesses you can support during social distancing.

Seniors and people with disabilities

How to give

Free Wheelchair Mission: Provides children and adults with disabilities and their caregivers with critical medical supplies and mobility aids.

Humanity & Inclusion: Has launched more than 170 Covid-19 projects in dozens of countries to protect and care for people with disabilities, including distribution of masks and hygiene kits as well as helping physical therapists reach patients via WhatsApp.

Meals on Wheels: This network of more than 5,000 community programs provides meals, visits and safety checks to seniors during the coronavirus crisis.

The Arc Foundation: The Arc advocates for the rights of individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Their Covid-19 resources also provide ways to get politically active and stay in touch with your local health authorities.

The National Council on Aging: Donations to the NCOA help provide older adults with food, medicine, utilities and other necessities.

How to help in your community

Deliver food: Help a senior citizen in your community by delivering a meal through Meals on Wheels.

Write a letter: Search for a senior center, memory care center or nursing home in your area and e-mail or call them to let them know you’d like to write some letters. They can let you know any specific requests, and where to send the finished product. (This works even better if several people participate.)

Check in: If you have elderly neighbors or friends, call them to see how they’re faring. Offer to do some non-contact chores, like putting the trash out, getting the mail or mowing the lawn.

How to get help

Get active: The National Institute on Aging, a branch of the National Institutes of Health, offers a set of low-impact workout videos specifically designed for seniors.

Get informed: The National Council on Aging has a hub for everything older adults need to know, including information about coronavirus scams and how to get benefits assistance.

Get connected: Lonely? Call the Institute on Aging’s toll free friendship line to get support, advice or just a someone to talk to.

What CNN Heroes are doing

Iraq war veteran and 2012 CNN Hero Jake Wood is the founder of Team Rubicon, a non-profit that brings military veterans together to help communities in disaster. Team Rubicon is asking local volunteers to help neighbors by doing little things like dropping off supplies or checking in on the elderly.

Service workers

How to give

The Salvation Army: The charity has seen increased emergency financial aid requests from low-wage workers or laid-off employees struggling to make ends meet.

United Way continues to help communities respond, recover and build back stronger from Covid-19 by helping people most in need access food, shelter, vital information and more.

How to help in your community

Consider paying ahead for services: Some services, like home cleaning, can be purchased ahead of time and then scheduled later. If you know you’ll use it, go ahead and purchase it.

Over-tip delivery drivers or other service professionals still on the job: They are likely facing serious pressures and personal risk and could use your appreciation.

Small businesses

How to get help

Get a small business loan: Kiva is offering U.S. small businesses immediate, no-fee, 0% interest loans up to $15,000 and a longer grace period – new borrowers may access a grace period of up to 6 months.

Get connected: Nytch is an app that connects local businesses with guests. They are offering free services during the coronavirus crisis. In the event that a small business sells a recommendation through the platform, payment of their standard Paypal processing charge is required.

Get gift cards: Fattmerchant, a payment technology provider, has partnered with Gift Up! to allow its clients to sell virtual gift cards.

Get opportunities: The Opportunity Fund, which specializes in money lending to small businesses owned by women, immigrants and people of color, is providing grants and low-interest rate loans to business owners in need.

How to help in your community

Buy gift cards:

  • Help Main Street: Allows people to help local businesses in all 50 states by ordering online, buying gift cards, or donating directly to provide critical cash support.
  • Kabbage: Use this service to buy gift certificates to support small businesses.

Underrepresented communities

How to give

Justice for Migrant Women: Together with Hispanics in Philanthropy, the charity is raising funds to help keep farmworker families safe from Covid-19 as they perform essential work.

Know Your Rights Camp Covid-19 Relief Fund: A program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation and launched as part of Collin Kaepernick’s “Know Your Rights” campaign. The fund will help black and brown communities, which are disproportionately affected by Covid-19. It will focus on food, shelter relief, education, PPE equipment and incarcerated populations.

Liberty Hill Foundation: Launched the Rapid Response Fund for Community Organizing to help Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous and queer communities, as well as those living in persistent poverty, immigrants and elderly.

League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC): Created #AyudaEnEspañol (#HelpinSpanish) initiative to provide Covid-19 resources to Spanish speaking communities.

Native Americans in Philanthropy: Established a Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund for Native American communities.

How to get help

Dress for Success: According to the World Economic Forum, the consequences from Covid-19 may be harder on women as they are caregivers and make up the majority of health and social care workers. Dress for Success is providing access to virtual resources and development tools that will help women stabilize their financial situation.

Share your story: Support the #WashTheHate social media campaign. Asian Americans post videos of themselves washing their hands while sharing personal stories about how Covid-19 has impacted their lives.

Design and development by Leah Abucayan, Curt Merrill, Alberto Mier and Allie Schmitz, CNN