Protect vulnerable populations

Updated August 3, 2020

Helping vulnerable populations in the United States

As is the case with many disasters, the most vulnerable populations among us are likely to be most affected by COVID-19. People who rely on safety net services will need them now more than ever, and many more will need to seek services for the first time due to the pandemic. We’ve identified several key areas where COVID-19 will have a disproportionate impact: food insecurity, elder care, mental health, homelessness, economic insecurity and child and domestic abuse. Fidelity Charitable has collaborated with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to provide the following list of organizations offering support services in these areas.

Looking for local nonprofits helping with COVID-19 relief? Check out these resources.

Food insecurity

Many people are facing layoffs or cut hours as the pandemic wears on. Getting enough food has become increasingly difficult for those who already struggle to keep themselves and their families fed. Children who rely on school for meals may no longer have consistent access to those resources.

Elder care

The symptoms of COVID-19 affect those over the age of 65 more dramatically than younger groups. As such, it’s even more important for seniors to practice social distancing than others to protect their health. Programs that support our elderly neighbors through safe food delivery are essential at this time, as are programs that address isolation or complex medical issues. Your local community foundation is a good place to check in; many community foundations work with local organizations providing essential safety net services. A map of community foundations with specific COVID-19 funds can be found at the bottom of this page.

Mental health

The isolation often required to shelter-in-place, paired with the stress of health concerns, job loss and the unknown nature of a new pandemic, can place an extreme burden on someone struggling with mental illness. Continued social distancing means restricted interaction with family, friends and support groups. The emotional toll of working on the frontlines of a pandemic may impact first responders, and others may have trouble accessing needed therapy, like those recovering from addiction. 


Those without shelter will inevitably face difficulty in acquiring the necessary food and hygiene essentials to stay healthy in addition to finding medical care for COVID-19 screening and treatment. Older homeless individuals or those with existing health conditions are particularly at risk. Shelter staff will also face many obstacles to preventing an outbreak. 

Economic insecurity

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused mass layoffs, with no foreseeable end in sight. Many will struggle to make ends meet during this time, while they juggle housing expenses, food costs, potential medical bills and more. National safety net organizations, like United Way, may have local affiliates in your community. Your local community foundation is also a good place to check in; many community foundations work with local organizations providing essential safety net services.

Brave of Heart Fund
TIN: 56-6047886
220 N Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28202
Make a grant recommendation

You can support the Brave of Heart Fund by recommending a grant to the Foundation for the Carolinas  and designating your grant to the Brave of Heart Fund.

Child and domestic abuse

Home isn’t a safe place for everyone. A rise in violence in the home may stem from an  intensely stressful situation, paired with children home from school and adults home from work with no way to leave the house. 

Resources for finding local nonprofits

Much of this response will take place at a local level, so check in with your favorite local organizations and ask about addressing any anticipated gaps. Need additional guidance on how to select a local organization? Check out our FAQ. 

Need additional guidance on how to select a local organization?

Below is a map tracking all local foundations with funds dedicated to COVID-19 relief. Clicking on a specific fund will give you information about what that fund is addressing. Community foundations often work with local safety net organizations on a regular basis to serve local populations. They may be a great resource for finding local nonprofits doing the most good in your region.

*This resource is reprinted with permission from National Center for Family Philanthropy and Giving Compass. The views and opinions of third-party content providers are solely those of the author and not Fidelity Charitable. Fidelity Charitable does not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided by such third parties. Fidelity Charitable is not responsible for the accuracy of such information or the ability of any organization to achieve specific goals. Fidelity Charitable makes no recommendation or endorsement with respect to any particular organization.

Please note the organizations listed in this guidance do not represent the full list of organizations raising money for relief efforts for the coronavirus. Fidelity Charitable has collaborated with the Center for Disaster Philanthropy to provide these organizations to donors for reference purposes only, and Fidelity Charitable does not endorse these organizations. All grant recommendations are subject to review and approval by the Fidelity Charitable Trustees. Fidelity Charitable will communicate all grant designation recommendations for coronavirus relief to grantees.