From wars to natural and manmade disasters, Americans have a long tradition of helping others in their time of need. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, Americans have reached deep into their wallets to provide relief to those working on the frontlines and the millions of others whose livelihoods have been impacted by the global pandemic.
According to Candid, a nonprofit tracking the philanthropic response, large charitable gifts from corporations, foundations and individuals, including faith-based and other sources, reached $7.8 billion, as of the week of April 16—far higher than recent disasters—and has shown no signs of slowing anytime soon.
Financial firms have been some of the most generous donors. Here are some ways banks, financial advisors and other financial institutions are supporting those most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Give Locally: COVID-19 has struck a broad swath of the country, from Washington State to New York City and everywhere in between. Instead of giving one lump sum to a single entity, financial firms are working strategically with local nonprofits to provide support to communities and subgroups hardest hit by the crisis. In March, Bank of America announced it was committing $100 million to support those affected by COVID-19. The bank tapped local presidents to identify how to put the money to best use and is working with regional nonprofits in areas such as medical response, food insecurity, access to learning and support for vulnerable populations.
- Don’t Forget National Charities: While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit states and communities disproportionally, large national charities have the infrastructure in place to begin immediately allocating resources most appropriately. In addition to giving to local charities, financial firms like Raymond James and Ameriprise Financial are also supporting Feeding America, a nationwide network of more than 200 community food banks that feed more than 46 million people through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and community-based agencies. The nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, Feeding America set up a COVID-19 Response Fund to support food banks across the country and, as of April 16, has raised more than $113 million—making it the sixth largest coronavirus-related charitable recipient, Candid reported.
- Offer Pro-Bono Services: With more than 22 million Americans out of work due to COVID-19, financial firms are offering a variety of pro-bono services to help clients and the general public cope with unprecedented economic hardship. Financial advisory firms like Illumint and SmartPath Advisors are offering free budgeting and financial advice to anyone who has been impacted by the virus. Beyond advice, DPL Financial Partners, a fee-only insurance network, is providing its services free to nonmembers until June 1. And Voya Financial, an insurer, asset manager and parent of an independent broker dealer, is waving fees on defined-contribution plans for coronavirus-related distributions, hardship withdrawals and loan initiations between April and September.
- Provide Added Employee Benefits: Financial institutions recognize that COVID-19 is having an impact not just on clients and the larger community, but right at home, with their own employees. Many financial firms are offering added paid time-off to employees affected by the virus. Charles Schwab is even giving all employees under the officer level a $1,000 spot bonus as a “small way to show our appreciation.
- Donate PPE: Several large financial firms are donating N95 masks and other personal protective equipment to healthcare workers on the frontlines. T. Rowe Price donated 130,000 masks that it previously had in storage. BBVA, a bank holding company headquartered in Birmingham, Ala., is procuring $500,000 worth of N95 masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and other essential materials to donate to public health nonprofits.
Financial firms are close to their communities. They’re in a great position to support those on the frontlines and share their specialized knowledge to help people rebuild their livelihoods. With no end in sight to this crisis, every individual and business must think about how to be part the solution.