Charitable organizations throughout the country run programs designed to provide financial help to people in need. Although the specific programs vary among charities, certain national organization are notorious for offering assistance or referrals. Each organization sets the eligibility guidelines and requirements necessary for receiving help at a local level.
Gather Your Documents
All charitable organizations will need to verify your identity and financial situation. Although they may not have firm income requirements or limitations, they'll need to verify you're truly in need. Since funding is limited and sometimes available on a first-come, first-serve basis, ensure you have all necessary documents on hand to avoid delays. You'll typically need:
- Your photo identification
- Social Security numbers for all household members
- Household bills and documents, such as a utility bill or eviction notice
- Copy of your lease or mortgage
- Documents showing a hardship -- medical bill, hospital discharge paperwork, car repair receipts, etc.
- Proof of household income for the past 30-60 days
The 2-1-1 helpline can connect you with a local charitable organization offering assistance. A specialist will take your call, evaluate your overall financial situation and search for programs and services that meet your needs. If you're eligible for a particular program based on the information you provide, the specialist will provide a referral for assistance.
Search for charities in your area using the United Way's 2-1-1 online presence, 211.org. Enter your zip code and state to be directed to your local 211 website. Search by entering the type of assistance you need to reveal a list of charities known to offer that particular type of help. Contact the charity directly to determine if funding is currently available and to ensure you meet the eligibility requirements.
Contact National Charities
National charities provide assistance with basic needs, such as food, clothing, housing and utilities. They also offer services that help you get back on your feet, including employment resources, counseling and financial planning. Some of the charities that offer such help include:
Search the websites to find your local divisions or dioceses.
Apply for Assistance
If the charity has funding, request an appointment or ask for information on the application process. Local offices generally require a face-to-face application process to determine eligibility and need. However, some charities may accept applications online or through the mail. You'll need to submit your documents and answer questions about your household, income and current expenses.