easy ways to contribute to covid19 efforts

March 25, 20205 min read

Although I’ve been worried about coronavirus, my focus had been on taking precautions to keep myself and those close to me from getting it.

I don’t have skills relevant to a pandemic, like medical expertise or supply chain experience, so I thought I’d just quarantine, work-from-home, and wait until other people found solutions.

But as we settle into the quarantine I’ve found myself wanting to help more and more, and it’s become clear that there are many ways to be helpful.

If you’re interested in helping out, here are a few ways to do so:

Donate money

If you’re relatively well-off, or have a high degree of job security, I’d encourage you to donate. Donating takes less than 5 minutes, but you might get caught up researching charities, get distracted, and then never donate at all.

So to make things easier for you, here’s my handy-dandy covid-19 donation guide:

If you consider yourself a capitalist or want to keep our doctors and nurses safe ➡️donate to Flexport’s “Frontline Responders Fund”

Flexport is a shipping company that’s highly regarded in the tech and engineering world, and well positioned to help move hospital supplies to the countries that need them most.

They are raising money towards hospital masks, gowns and gloves at the Frontline Responders Fund.

(Flexport’s CEO has an informative thread about the problems preventing enough personal protective equipment (PPE) from getting to healthcare workers)

If you’re a Bernie fan or pro-welfare ➡️ donate to mRelief

mRelief helps people get on food stamps, since it’s a confusing process, and sometimes people don’t even know they qualify.

The average food stamp application is more than 20 pages long, whereas mRelief sends you 10 simple questions via text message. They’ve helped people access over $100 million in SNAP benefits.

Your money goes far when you donate to mRelief, because every dollar translates to $114 of food stamps.

If you love science or worry that the world is about to end ➡️ donate to UCSF

UCSF hospital is investigating coronavirus treatments, essentially testing medicines that are approved for other diseases to see if they have an effect on covid.

While quarantining is a helpful stopgap, the long-term solutions to coronavirus, and the solutions that will allow us to return to normal life, are a treatment and a vaccination. And the more resources we can throw at research, the faster a cure will be found.

If you’re in the Bay Area and you want to help the local community ➡️donate to Tipping Point

Tipping Point is a charity that fights poverty in the Bay Area.

Many people here have lost their jobs due to enforced social distancing, and are struggling to stay afloat — so donations are needed now more than ever. Once you donate, DM @justindross and he’ll match your donation.

I donated $50. If you match my donation to any of the above charities, I’ll add your name to the bottom of this post and say terribly nice things about you.


If you’re young and not immuno-compromised, volunteer for a food bank.

The San Francisco government has said that food banks had a 52% cancelation rate for volunteers in March, and have had nearly 1,000 cancelations in April. I’d assume we’re seeing similar dropping out in all cities, due to the quarantine.

If you’re worried about getting the virus, there are opportunities that enable you to help others while taking the precautions of social distancing.

A friend of mine is volunteering with meals on wheels, which lets you leave food at the doorstep so you don’t interact directly with other humans. You can also volunteer for food sorting shifts where you will only interact with other volunteers, and may be able to maintain 6 feet of distance from them.

Personally, I’m in full quarantine because I’m immunocompromised (I have asthma, which is one of the leading causes of hospitalization for the regular flu, although we don’t yet have to data to know how asthma responds to covid19).

However, if you volunteer somewhere, message me and I’ll add your name to the bottom of this post and say terribly nice things about you!

If you’re in SF, sign up to volunteer here.

Put Your Company’s Resources Towards Helping

If your work is slow because your business has dried up from coronavirus, brainstorm whether you and your co-workers can pivot towards covid efforts.

At AirGarage, our city launchers have found themselves with free time, since they can’t do in-person sales during quarantine. They are devoting some of that time to finding parking lots for drive-through covid19 testing. They’re taking what they know best (how to find, pitch, and persuade parking lots), and applying it towards the cause.

If you have unused work hours, but you’re not sure how you can help, spend 5 minutes free-form brainstorming. Or message me and I’ll help you brainstorm too 😊



The first person on the donation wall-of-fame is Jonathon Barkl, and I have far too many terribly nice things to say about him:

  • If Jonathon Barkl were dropped in the middle of the desert, he would survive.
  • Jonathon Barkl can beat Bobby Fischer at chess, blindfolded.
  • Jonathon Barkl can speak to dolphins (in fact, there are numerous dolphin songs about the virtues of Jonathon Barkl).
  • Jonathon Barkl can read three books in one sitting at Dolores Park.

Next up is the infamous Andrew Roberts:

  • Andrew Roberts can play Dark Souls with his left hand and Hearthstone with his right, simultaneously. And win.
  • Andrew Roberts hangs all posters perfectly, without a level.
  • Andrew Roberts is the only man to ski Everest, and he made it down in 12 minutes.