Resources for People Facing Financial Hardship

At least once a day, our customer service department gets a call asking for information about grants to help those suffering severe financial hardship. Since GrantWatch is a listing service mostly for nonprofits, we often find ourselves unable to assist. Occasionally, these callers can find the grant they need in our grants for businesses or individuals categories, but the application process can also be a deterrent.

What to do when you are in a crisis?

Meanwhile, at GrantWatch wanted to help, so we did some research and found a few state and local resources that can assist by providing contact information for local financial assistance.

Help resource

1. Call 211

211 is a phone number that is explicitly reserved to enable people in need to speak with a community resource specialist who can help them find local social services for everyday needs and in times of crisis.

Currently, active 211 systems cover all or part of the 50 states and some of Canada. They offer information on the following types of services:

  • Basic Human Needs Resources – including food and clothing, shelters, housing, and utility assistance.
  • Emergency information and disaster relief
  • Mental Health and Health Resources – including counseling, support groups, drug and alcohol treatment, health insurance programs, Medicaid and Medicare, maternal health resources, health insurance programs for children, medical information lines, clinics, and hospitals.
  • Employment and Education Support – including job training, employment services, transportation assistance, and education programs.
  • Older Adults and Persons with Disabilities – including adult day care, community meals, respite care, home health care, transportation, and homemaker services.
  • Children, Youth, and Family Support – For example, childcare, after-school programs, educational programs for low-income families, family resource centers, recreation programs, mentoring, tutoring, and protective services.
  • Information on physical and or emotional Domestic Abuse.
2. Benefits.Gov is the official benefits website of the U.S. government. Its mission is to increase citizen access to benefit information while reducing the expense and difficulty of interacting with the government.

The site’s core function is the eligibility prescreening questionnaire or “Benefit Finder.” In addition, answers to the questionnaire are used to evaluate a citizen’s situation and compare it with eligibility criteria for more than 1,200 Federally-funded benefit and assistance programs. The site also features a recommendation engine that customizes the user’s search for benefits based on their location or interest in a category.

3. USA.Gov

Overall, provides information about commonly needed government services and makes them accessible anytime, anywhere, via your channel of choice. This government website can also help direct you to resources relating to:

  • State social service agencies
  • Government benefits
  • Help with bills
  • Grants and loans
  • Food assistance
  • Affordable rental housing
  • Military programs and benefits
  • Financial aid for students
  • Unemployment help
  • Retirees
  • And much more!

Many imposter and scam websites may have similar names. Remember — government websites will NEVER ask for a fee and the URLs will always end in the domain “.GOV”, while imposters will include “gov” before the end of the domain..

4. Local Nonprofits

Many grants are allocated to nonprofits that then use the funding to help the community. As an individual, you should reach out to the local nonprofit organizations in your community. For example:

The Salvation Army does the following:

  • Helps disaster survivors
  • Provides food and shelter
  • Provides financial assistance
  • Combats addiction
  • Shares God’s love
  • Assists the unemployed
  • Fights human trafficking
  • Offers programs to stop domestic abuse
  • Offers educational programs to kids
  • Serves the LGBTQ community
5. Churches, Synagogues, & Charities

Your local faith-based ministries typically provide service to people, regardless of their faith, who are struggling with poverty and other complex issues. These services include:

  • Affordable housing
  • Immigrant and refugee services
  • Integrated health
  • Food and nutrition programs
  • Disaster relief
6. Create a Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular method of online fundraising for individuals, businesses, not-for-profits, and charities. Generally, it involves an individual or an organization setting a fundraising target online and then asking the crowd on the internet for donations to reach that target. 

7. Other Resources

Community Action Agency (CAA)
Lastly, why not conduct a web search for a local Community Action Agency (CAA)? They have several resources to help the needy. In addition, most churches, The United Way, and The Urban League are other organizations that also offer resources for those in crisis.

Do you know of a place in your community that offers resources to help the needy? Please tell us about them in the comments.

GrantWatch is a secure search and listing directory of currently available grants accepting grant applications. We only charge a small subscription fee to use our service. GrantWatch does not give grants. Never pay an imposter who asks you to pre-pay money for a grant. Grants are never guaranteed.

Libby Hikind

Libby Hikind is the founder and CEO of and the author of "The Queen of Grants: From Teacher to Grant Writer to CEO". Libby Hikind, began her grant writing career while working as a teacher in the New York City Department of Education. She wrote many grants for her classroom before raising millions for a Brooklyn school district. Throughout her professional career, she established her own grant writing agency in Staten Island with a fax newsletter for her clients of available grants. After retiring from teaching, Libby embraced the new technology and started GrantWatch. She then moved GrantWatch and her grant writing agency to Florida to enjoy her parents later years, and the rest is history. Today more than 230,000 people visit online, monthly.