The recently released Fidelity Charity Future of Philanthropy study revealed both some surprises and some expectations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Things have changed as nearly the entire world population had to adapt to vast shifts in society and in business.
It should not be a surprise that a global life-threatening pandemic should change the way people approach the world and their places within it. Life became more complicated, loved ones were lost, employees were furloughed or laid off, and many logical thinkers of the world anticipated that charitable giving would suffer a steep decline. They figured people would circle the wagons within their homes and at most their selected communities, trying to figure out how best to survive. The logical thinkers were wrong, and the recent findings prove so.
As has happened repeatedly throughout history, when the chips are down and many expect humanity to become entirely selfish and focus purely on self-preservation, most people do the opposite. In other words: from the worst comes the best.
Though economies and personal finances were decimated the world over, 25% of donors plan to increase their donations during COVID-19, while 54% plan to maintain their current levels of contribution. And while Millennials get a bad rap from some older generations, a staggering 46% said they will give even more in response to the pandemic – in comparison to just 14% of Baby Boomers and 25% of Gen Xers.
Appeals for help from organizations like WE Charity are apparently being heard – and according to the nonprofit, charitable organizations in the post-pandemic world are in need of greater support, because even when all is “well” in Canada, a staggering 800,000 Canadians depend on food banks – and since the onset of the pandemic, there has been a 20% increase.
“Charities employ more than two million Canadians and account for 8.4 percent of the GDP; what’s more, they buoy individuals and communities in times of need,” according to the website.
The minority that stated they would decrease charitable giving cited concerns of a recession and the overall state of the economy.
The increase in funding comes on the heels of a decrease in volunteerism, as people are often heeding the advice of medical experts and limiting in-person contact. While masking mandates have often relaxed, especially in the United States, the Delta variant is producing greater concern and a tightening of restrictions where cases are rising.
So, there is more money, but fewer people in which to make use of it for the selected nonprofits.
According to Forbes, this shift brings with it new rules in a budding “Millennial Age,” namely that a staggering 41% of individual donors claim they have changed their giving due to increased knowledge about nonprofit effectiveness.
Some of the most notable facts from the study that were cited by Philanthropy News Digest include that almost 60% of donors made charitable gifts through an organization’s website in 2020, with 18% stating they made more donations than in previous years and 40% of those who donated stated that hunger is one of the top challenges faces the world – a six percent increase from pre-pandemic studies. Basic health services ranked as well as did racial discrimination.
People are reconsidering the very definition of philanthropy. Some are shifting away from direct donations and instead of seeking to purchase products from socially responsible businesses – and calling that philanthropy. Twenty percent said they were involved in impact investing stating social and environmental factors were considerations in those investments. Seventy percent stated that they believed it was important to be employed by a company that embraces corporate social responsibility. As the mindset shifts with regard to philanthropy – from the method of giving to the definition itself – it becomes increasingly important for people to assess the things they value so that their hard-earned money can be used in ways that can help them feel they are contributing to a better world.