7 Ways You Can Help Fight Poverty in Your Community
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, 7.8 million people have fallen into poverty—the biggest jump in a single year since the government began tracking poverty 60 years ago. It’s easy to think about poverty as a national crisis that is bigger than you, but there are actually lots of things you can do to influence this systemic problem right in your own community. CommonBond works to help fight poverty through housing in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and Iowa, and we’ve outlined some examples of how you can help fight poverty in your community.
How to Help Poverty Issues in Your Community
1. Challenge ideas and assumptions
Whether you have preconceived notions about poverty within your community, or as a concept in general, it’s important to challenge those assumptions so you aren’t unintentionally spreading harmful biases. One common misconception, for example, is that people experiencing homelessness choose not to work. This misconception is incredibly harmful because it negates the many uncontrollable and systemic conditions that can cause housing instability or poverty. In reality, there are many factors people have to deal with that make it hard to find employment, including loss of affordable housing, inequitable access to training and tools, and mental illness.
If you recognize this myth, be sure to do the work to challenge it. Do your best to learn about the specific poverty issues in your community, and find out ways you can help fight them.
2. Create awareness/get informed
Poverty is in every community, so it’s important to know where the issues lie within your own. Get informed about the resources that are already available and those that are still needed. There are local groups doing this work that could use your help—you can then do your part in getting the word out and listening to these community experts about where you can be helpful in fighting poverty in your community. A great resource in Minneapolis, for example, is the Twin Cities Mutual Aid Map. This map shows a myriad of organizations and mutual aid efforts around the Twin Cities area that are accepting donations or other resources.
3. Donate time/volunteer opportunities
Partner with local organizations that help the community by donating your time. Whether it’s helping out in a food kitchen or working with children after school to get their homework done, there are ways that don’t require money that can still make an impact. We’ve created a volunteer waitlist that you can join to support our work, whether you’re in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, or Iowa.
4. Make kits or fundraise for those experiencing homelessness in your neighborhood
In addition to donating time, you can also reach out to local organizational leaders to see what specifically folks who are experiencing poverty in their communities need. To ensure your donations have the most impact, listen to these community experts. Be sure to donate items that are specifically being asked for, not just what you have in your pantry! Use that info to create meal kits or baskets full of food or house cleaning products that will keep people stocked up on essentials for a while, and give it to local organizations and community experts to distribute.
Another option is to hold fundraisers. Have a pizza party in your community where the proceeds go to local shelters or other organizations that help fight poverty. Get bigger local businesses to donate services for a silent auction. Doing fundraisers like this can be a fun way to bring people together for an important cause.
5. Attend demonstrations or rallies to increase awareness
Another way to create and increase awareness and fight poverty in your community is to attend events like demonstrations and rallies. These may be block parties or parades or any other kind of peaceful event that will grab the community’s attention and turn it towards fighting against systemic poverty. There are organizations that regularly hold events that both raise awareness, as well as stand in solidarity with those affected by poverty—and by joining their work, you may learn how to be a better advocate.
6. Create jobs
If you own a business or an organization in the community, look for areas you could use some help with. Many people living in poverty may not have had access to higher education or specialty certifications, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have skills to contribute. Identifying areas of opportunities within your business or organization, expanding your recruiting pool, and paying a living wage is one way to make change to help neighbors living in poverty in your community.
7. Provide paid leave and paid sick days
If you’re a business owner within your community, offer paid leave and paid sick days. Although it’s an investment for you, taking a day off every now and then without pay can seriously hurt some of your employees, especially if they’re under the poverty line. Your employees are going to get sick from time to time—let them rest easy by offering paid sick leave. For staff who are earning under the area median income, consider offering stipends for childcare, or even consider an on-site childcare option to create an environment where working families don't have to choose between income and childcare.
CommonBond Can Help
Poverty affects more people than you think, and as you now know, there are many ways of fighting poverty in your community. Serving your community by donating time or money is a valuable way to get involved. Our team at CommonBond wants to help you in your fight, whether you’re in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, or Iowa. Get in touch today to learn how you can continue the fight against poverty in your community.