Behind the Screens: Supporting Your Local Community Virtually

Behind the Screens: Supporting Your Local Community Virtually

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Have you been wondering how you can be a valued resource for the place most important to you – your own local community? Other than monetary support, do you ever question how you can best help the local businesses that make your home great? Providing meaningful support – online and in other digital media – can be a way for you to do good, feel good, and have a far-reaching impact.

We all know that recent events have brought unprecedented challenges not just to individuals but also to our communities and local businesses. We’ve seen the (temporary) shutdown of important community resources like museums and libraries and closure of public spaces like our parks and beaches. We’ve also witnessed our favorite restaurants and small businesses struggle to reinvent themselves and find new revenue streams. While the government has looked for ways to help small businesses monetarily, many of us have asked ourselves how we can support our local neighbors as well.

Research has established that giving has numerous benefits – from making us feel happy and decreasing stress to promoting a sense of trust and cooperation that forms the foundation of our communities. While monetary giving might be difficult when we’re unsure about our own budgets, the relative affordability and prevalence of the internet provides us with a number of ingenious ways to give thoughtfully and help support businesses and causes that we feel strongly about. The internet has also given us some great opportunities to volunteer from home. You can volunteer for a crisis line, help organize a food drive, or even foster a puppy! Skills you already have might be exactly what an organization is looking for. If you’re looking for a way to get started, VolunteerMatch has postings for over a million virtual volunteering opportunities. You can even filter by location or by category of interest to find the right philanthropic opportunity for you.

The internet has been a lifeline for businesses big and small. While big retail giants have been able to pivot and bolster their online presence quickly, adapting to these tools has provided a different set of difficulties for small business. Be patient if your local small business doesn’t quite have their digital business working seamlessly or if something is out of stock. Don’t be afraid to call if you need some help. Oftentimes this will have the added benefit of providing you with personalized service too!

Consider using your own online clout to support your favorite local spots. It’s simple and generally free to leave a glowing review or incorporate “shop local” messages into your online presence. Social media has changed the landscape of marketing and made it more affordable for many small businesses to reach a larger audience. You can help provide some extra publicity by reposting or giving messages of support. Even if you don’t feel that you can donate, posting links to promote relief efforts for local businesses and groups might encourage other philanthropists who can. For instance, the Restaurant Employee Relief Fund has raised over $21.5 million to help support restaurant workers who have been financially impacted by COVID-19. Similarly, the Opportunity Fund provides micro-loans to help small businesses navigate the financial hardships caused by COVID-19.

If you have the resources to donate, consider giving to impact organizations that help decrease the digital divide. While many of us take internet access for granted, in 2019 over 10% of Americans lacked internet access. In the last few months, we’ve seen how internet access has truly become a necessity. With many libraries, schools, and other spaces with public WiFi closed, new hurdles have arisen for universal internet access. Several non-profits, companies, and funds help address this need. A couple of our favorites are: San José Digital Inclusion Fund and Human-I-T.  

Be patient, give time and resources if you can, and recognize that we’re all in this together. A smile and a “thank you” cost you little but might make someone else’s day. It has often been said that adversity doesn’t create character; it reveals it. As we continue to navigate this pandemic, remember that the goal is for our communities to come out stronger.

At Treehouse Wealth, we approach advising as so much more than financial planning and investing; we want to help you accomplish the goals that are most important to you. If we can help or answer a question, please get in touch

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