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COVID-19 Pandemic's Impact on Philanthropy

Charitable giving donations increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Recently, Bank of America's Charitable Gift Fund published a study of giving during the COVID-19 Pandemic.  As with many commercial giving platforms, data collected is helpful to understand trends in giving better, particularly so during infrequent horrific events, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic.  This study is credible because Bank of America partnered with Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University, an expert in giving in the USA.

As you might expect, giving increased in specific areas.  The study focused on the giving patterns of affluent families. Finding that one in three of responding households increased their charitable giving to support pandemic relief efforts, of those who raised their giving, twice as many increased giving locally. The summary reported that 90% of donors gave to local organizations, with just 35% donating nationally and 15% globally.

Much of the charitable giving during the Pandemic was for basic needs, such as fighting food insecurity.  Close to home, the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada experienced a 300% increase in grant recommendations from donor-advised funds to support the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

The study found 47% of the respondents made specific gifts in direct response to the Pandemic.  In the report, 49% of the respondents said they gave to purchase hospital supplies, 32% to help at-risk populations deal with pandemic symptoms, 30% for vaccine research and treatments, and 34% for other pandemic-related health issues.

And another piece of good news is that the donors' generosity continued on a broader scale.  In affluent households, 94%  continue to give to charity, 81% maintained their giving, and 12% increased their giving. 

Locally, I have been concerned about how organizations that rely on place-based programs and services such as museums and camps have fared.  It appears Northern Nevada donors and nonprofits handled the crisis well, reflecting a national trend.

The study found donors continued to support their favorite charities and that 83% of donors gave to arts and culture during the Pandemic, 75% to health and medical, and 74% to education. Notably, donors also reported that they were unlikely to impose giving restrictions, which gave charities more flexibility and the ability to use gifts in ways most important to help charities stay in operation.

I am starting to see the Pandemic in the rearview mirror, and I think it unlikely will be the subject of future columns. It is gratifying to learn how donors stepped up to help in our time of need.

Although the Pandemic generated needs that were unprecedented in many ways, there are still many critical needs our community continues to face.  Every generous person, family, or professional advisor we work with has a vision of how to help, and it is the Community Foundation's call to help them realize that vision.

Our ability to make inroads to permanent improvement grows every year. The incredible actions that people are taking through the Community Foundation make Northern Nevada a better place for us today and tomorrow.  If you like, call, and we can bandy about some ideas. 

The Community Foundation connects people who care with causes that matter. We care, and you matter to us.

Chris Askin, President/CEO
Connecting people who care with causes that matter