Our recent #GivingTuesday collaboration gave us an opportunity to sit down with Ellie Hollander, President and CEO of Meals on Wheels America, where we discussed Meals on Wheels’ great work and the importance of incorporating charitable giving into your wealth plan.
How has your business and food insecurity across the U.S. changed since before the pandemic?
Even before COVID-19 hit, senior hunger and social isolation were hidden but growing epidemics, with one in six seniors struggling with hunger (nearly 10 million!), and millions more living alone.
Since the pandemic, the nationwide Meals on Wheels network has faced an unprecedented surge in demand for its services. Specifically, the need for home-delivered nutrition skyrocketed as the number of older adults sheltering in place significantly rose in a short amount of time, and senior centers closed their doors. Millions of older adults were forced to join the ranks of the homebound and the millions of seniors who already relied on the vital lifeline delivered by Meals on Wheels programs for nutritious food and essential social connection and companionship.
At the pandemic’s peak, our network of local Meals on Wheels programs delivered an average of 100% more home-delivered meals than before the pandemic began.
Today, Meals on Wheels programs are still delivering 57% more meals than pre-pandemic — and most agree that these “new clients are here to stay.” Additionally, while our network remains strained by rising demand, we are also navigating increasing food costs, supply chain disruptions, a reduced volunteer base and a lack of sustainable funding. That’s why we rely on the generosity of partners like D.A. Davidson to enable us to do whatever it takes to ensure that Meals on Wheels remains a reliable lifeline for our nation’s most vulnerable seniors — today, tomorrow and for many decades to come.
Can you offer advice for somebody who wants to get involved with a nonprofit organization?
While I can’t speak about all nonprofits, I am happy to share the myriad ways to support Meals on Wheels America and the seniors our network serves:
- You can donate. Donations are essential to keeping our wheels turning — so we welcome your support of Meals on Wheels America at whatever level is meaningful to you, as every gift makes a difference.
- You can volunteer. Learn more about the volunteer experience and how to find your nearest Meals on Wheels program. (Please keep in mind that the need and ability to accept volunteers varies by community.)
- You can advocate. Be the voice for millions of older adults in need by contacting your members of Congress, asking them to protect programs that support seniors. There are many easy but impactful ways to advocate for Meals on Wheels — whether it’s making a call, sending an email or spreading the word on social media.
- You can stay connected. Learn more about the issues of senior hunger and isolation by signing up to receive our emails with stories, newsletters and ways you can help delivered right to your inbox.
- You can follow us. Lastly, if you don’t already — follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. Whatever charity you decide to support, you can start by researching the causes that inspire you most and identifying ways to get involved that feel personally meaningful to you.
Our financial professionals have helped many clients build gifting into their financial plans. How important is the role of gifting in fulfilling your organization’s needs?
Gifting is one of the most crucial factors in enabling us to accomplish our vision of an America in which all seniors live a nourished life with independence and dignity. Support from donors — individuals, corporate and foundation funders — enables us to both propel our national efforts and aid local programs on the ground. Donations are more critically important than ever before because federal Meals on Wheels funding continually fails to keep pace with the rapidly growing need. Additionally, aging issues are often overlooked by large private and community foundations who give less than 1% of their funding to organizations like Meals on Wheels. This lack of support equates to deep, unmet need.
That said, we know that when donors come together and rally behind our cause, we have significant impact. Individual and corporate donations to the Meals on Wheels COVID-19 Response Fund in 2020, by example, enabled our network to serve one million more seniors and deliver more than 19 million additional meals, when it was needed most.
Seniors depend on us more than ever, and we need philanthropic gifts to ensure we’re able to meet their needs. With donors like D.A. Davidson and its clients by our side, we not only brighten the days of our seniors, but truly transform their lives through a knock on the door that delivers so much more than just a meal.
D.A. Davidson & Co. is a registered broker-dealer and registered investment adviser that does not provide tax or legal advice. Information contained herein has been obtained by sources we consider reliable, but is not guaranteed and we are not soliciting any action based upon it. Any opinions expressed are based on our interpretation of the data available to us at the time of the original article. These opinions are subject to change at any time without notice. Copyright D.A. Davidson & Co., 2021. All rights reserved. Member SIPC.