The situation in which we find ourselves right now is challenging in ways we’ve never seen, especially with so many affected. Homeless shelters, food banks, and aid organizations are the obvious ones, but now we have friends whose businesses are failing, neighbours with challenges they’re unable to meet, not to mention that many of us have lost our own jobs or businesses.
The need is overwhelming.
We’re now seeing the sprouting of GoFundMe pages and those are likely to increase as this pandemic wears on. Organizations, businesses, and neighbours who were barely going to make it if this thing wore on for a month, are now realizing that it’s going to drag on for much longer and are desperate to find solutions.
Donation fatigue is something we’re already used to around the holidays, and when schools, children’s groups and charitable organizations do their annual fundraising. It’s going to set in a lot quicker right now, as we all deal with having less to spread around.
Despite the guilt we might feel by having to say No to most of these requests, you’ll be doing nobody any favours to exhaust your own savings and resources trying to be everything to everybody.
If you have organizations you help throughout the year already, and I hope you do, the best thing you can do for them is to continue to focus on their needs, especially if you have much less to go around.
My wife donates to the local SPCA every month and she’s going to continue doing so. I give a monthly donation to the Alberta Institute of Wildlife Conservation and they can count on my continued support.
Discovery Wildlife Park has established a GoFundMe page to help them make it through this tough time as they have many mouths to feed and don’t know if they’ll be able to open this year. If you’ve followed my work for longer than five minutes, you know how important those people and animals are to me, so we were happy to donate to that yesterday.
While I haven’t yet made a donation to the Alberta Birds of Prey Centre in Coaldale this year, I hope to in the very near future.
When my whimsical wildlife face masks are available, I’ll be sending some to all four of those places, whatever I’m able to give.
But like everybody else, my own business has taken a significant hit and I expect those hits will keep coming, especially with no immediate end to this crisis in sight.
What that means is I’ll have to decline any other requests for help. It’s the only way I’ll be able to keep my own livelihood intact and also keep helping the organizations to which I feel a close connection and obligation.
Everyone’s situation is different, some are better and worse off than you think during this crisis, and it all depends on how well they hide it.
So, I’d like to make three requests.
First, if you can help any organization, give anything at all, please do. If a struggling neighbour or local business needs your help and you can give, do that, too. But if you can’t help right now because your own financial situation is stressed, then think about your favorite charities and organizations once you’re back on your feet. They need help now, but they’re going to need even more later on.
Second, if you’re one of those making the request for help, understand if people have to say No and have some empathy for how hard it is for them to do so. We’d all like to give to everyone, and to have to decline comes with no small amount of shame. It’s a double hit to our fragile egos, that we don’t have enough and thus don’t feel we are enough if we can’t help.
Finally, be careful about volunteering somebody else. It’s very easy to see a need, then tell a friend, “you know what you should do…” putting them in an awkward position from which it’s difficult to escape.
We’re all learning as we go as we navigate these uncharted waters. It’s going to get more difficult before it gets easier, in ways we haven’t yet begun to fathom.
Resist the urge to point fingers of blame at anyone you see making choices with which you don’t agree. That includes our elected officials at all levels who have the weight of so many lives resting on each decision they make. The information they get is changing day to day and the strain can’t be easy to bear. Despite any preparation they could have done, nobody saw this coming to this extent. This will be a significant landmark in modern human history, the full effects of which will only be known in hindsight.
Help where you can, and if you can’t right now, then cut yourself some slack. This will be a long game, and your time to play your part will come.