How COVID-19 changed the charitable giving landscape

Human services organizations addressing needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hunger, saw big gains in giving last year.
Human services organizations addressing needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hunger, saw big gains in giving last year.
lev radin / Shutterstock
Human services organizations addressing needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hunger, saw big gains in giving last year.

How COVID-19 changed the charitable giving landscape

Giving was up overall, but not all nonprofits received more support.
May 13, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has scrambled the nonprofit sector’s status quo in numerous ways – and charitable donations are no exception.

Giving grew in 2020 by about 5% year-over-year compared with 2019, in large part driven by repeat donors providing large gifts to organizations, according to a new report analyzing data from 74 charitable giving platforms about charities with $25 million or less in contributions.

The year also represented a reversal of previous trends that showed fewer donors giving to nonprofits, the report from GivingTuesday’s research arm, the GivingTuesday Data Commons, found. The 1.3% growth in the overall number of donors was largely driven by people giving smaller dollar amounts ranging from $101 to $500. However, huge drops in retaining donors who typically gave regularly to certain organizations offset the benefits of new incoming donors.

And while charitable giving was up overall, not all organizations in the nonprofit sector received more support. Human services organizations saw the most growth, seeing nearly 22% dollar growth on average, as donors aimed to address increasing need caused by the pandemic. Meanwhile, arts and environment groups saw declines.

“Unusual volatility means that the traditional look at sector-wide results doesn’t reflect the typical nonprofit experience in 2020,” Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer of GivingTuesday, said in a statement. 

NYN Media reporter Kay Dervesh
Kay Dervishi
is a staff reporter at NYN Media.
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