‘Tis the season for online donations amid the pandemic

Published: Dec. 21, 2020 at 10:16 AM EST

WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Many charities are struggling to keep up with the demand for food, shelter and gifts for children this holiday season amid the coronavirus pandemic. This year, organizations are making it easier for people to donate.

The sound of the Salvation Army bell is a sign the holidays are in full swing, but it is a holiday season like no other in recent memory.

“The 20 dollar bills you once received have been reduced to 1 dollar,” said James Brown, a bell ringer. He has been part of the 129-year-old tradition for the past few years.

As the pandemic is pushing many Americans to a cashless, contactless society, the Salvation Army is adapting to the times with Kettle Pay, digital giving on the go.

“They simply take their phone, they can take a picture of the QR code and the appropriate web page will come up or they can tap the sign which will allow Google Pay or Apply pay to be activated,” said Salvation Army National Commander Kenneth G. Hodder.

Hodder said they started developing the idea last year, but when COVID hit, they accelerated Kettle Pay’s roll out. He said they desperately need donations.

The Red Kettle campaign raised $126 million in 2019 and the organization predicts they’ll raise half of that this year. Demand is higher. Hodder projects more than 6 million people will ask for help this holiday season.

“We don’t know that we’ll be able to meet all that need,” said Hodder.

The Salvation Army isn’t the only non-profit struggling. According to charity experts, organizations across the country have taken a huge financial hit.

“Their primary source of fundraising has been cut off. Think of organizations that have galas, that have walk-a-thons,” said Michael Thatcher, President and CEO of Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator analyzes more than 160,000 non-profits. Based on their research, 72 percent of charities are suffering financially and 77 percent had to cancel a fundraiser.

Despite these difficult times, Thatcher said people are still trying to help others.

“They’re digging deep. They might be giving a little less, but they are still giving” he said.

Thatcher said he expects more charities will find innovative ways to raise money into 2021.

If you would like to help the Salvation Army, click here.

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