Sean Arian Helps Us Help
If this virus has shown us anything, it’s how interconnected we are. It can be difficult to feel that connection, though, while we’re bunkered in our homes with kids, work, home schooling and activities. The anxiety and exhaustion of managing our new reality can intensify the isolation. We are infinitely grateful for those on the front lines, both in health care and essential services. We want to help and be a part of the solution, but it’s hard to know where to begin.
We turned to Sean Arian, former Director of Economic Development for the Mayor of Los Angeles, Executive Director of LA-Tech.org (which helps tech companies support underserved LA communities), and amazing dad, for advice on how to help our neighbors in need.
Hi Sean. How do we get started?
A simple start would be to check on those in our immediate circle—friends, extended family, and neighbors—to see if they need anything. Especially those who are elderly or vulnerable. Many who are struggling may not want to ask for help. A little reaching out goes a long way.
What is the fastest, most effective thing we can do to help?
If you can give, make a donation of any size to an established nonprofit. They are set up to help right away. But because of the economic situation, they may not be able to stick around. And donations will keep them operating and serving our vulnerable populations.
What about our communities?
If you look at what happened to the economy during the 2007-2010 recession—what took about 6 months happened now in about 6 weeks. So economic carnage could be a lot worse. The question is whether the economy will bounce back quickly. It depends on our ability to shelter in place. And whether or not the bailout package works. In the meantime, the need will go way up.
What about nonprofits?
Nonprofits that support people in need will be in trouble. They get most of their money from foundations and private companies. Foundations depend on the stock market; most of them will take losses and cut back on donations now. Companies will also cut back, and their community service programs and donations will stall. There will be a rising demand for services, and nonprofits may not be able to meet them.
Have you already started to see this?
Yes, I’m on the board of the nonprofit, Homeboy Industries [an intervention, rehab, and reentry program for former gang members]. There’s always a need for support services, which will suffer; but their bakery and catering business is now closed. Their fundraiser next week, which supports their budget, is canceled. They’re also experiencing a decline in individual donors. Multiply that across the country.
You help tech companies with corporate responsibility efforts. What can individuals do in addition to donations?
Think of your resources. If you have a business, identify ways its services might be used temporarily to help people or nonprofits. For tech companies, sometimes it’s just writing a check. Or redirecting a part of their business that’s not being used. For example, Snap Inc. has a catering service for their employees. But since employees are working from home, the food service is making 1,000 meals a day for those in need—200 for the homeless and 800 for students.
Which nonprofits are the most crucial?
Those dedicated to feeding people, helping health care workers, and IT/ technology assistance for seniors, students, and nonprofits.
What is LA-Tech.org doing right now?
In response to the crisis, LA-Tech.org is partnering with Homeboy Industries to feed people in need, and with iFoster to give laptops to foster youth to reconnect them with their education. Anyone can donate here, and 100% of the funds donated are passed through to the nonprofits. They make an impact now.
More nonprofits to support: