COVID-19 Giving: Donors Aren’t Tapped Out Yet

COVID-19 Giving: Donors Aren’t Tapped Out Yet

Nov 04, 2020 Patrice Onwuka

When the novel coronavirus swept the nation and disrupted our economy earlier this year, millions of workers were suddenly unemployed, and many families had to turn to the charitable world for help in meeting their basic needs. 

In response, Americans did something they naturally do when disaster strikes: They dug deep into their wallets to help those in need. Foundations and donor-advised funds also quickly increased their normal giving for relief and operational support.   

While this outpouring gave nonprofits critical resources to help meet the spike in demand, many organizations worried that that donors were frontloading charitable giving this year, rather than increasing their overall giving levels—a practice that would ultimately lead to donor fatigue by year’s end.  

However, a new survey of donor sentiment provides positive signs to the contrary. Year-end giving actually may not be upended by coronavirus-relief donations after all.    

RKD Group and the Nonprofit Alliance commissioned an online survey of more than 1,000 people in August. The results give us good insight into December giving:

  • 80 percent of donors say they plan to give the same as or more than last December. Only 20 percent reportedly plan to reduce their giving.  

  • 77 percent of donors say they have given more (31 percent) or the same (46 percent) in 2020 than in 2019. Only 23 percent have given less.  

  • 61 percent of donors who say they will give more in December have already given more this year. On the opposite end of the spectrum, 72 percent of donors who say they will give less in December have already given less this year.  

  • 65 percent of higher-income donors (earners over $100,000) said they expect to give more in December compared to 25 percent of middle-income donors ($50,000 to $100,000 earners) and 11 percent of middle- to low-income donors (less than $50,000 earners).  

Americans are the most generous people on earth, and they constantly stretch the limits of their giving, including during times of need. This pandemic provides fresh evidence of philanthropy’s ability to be agile and responsive—all year long.