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September 30, 2020
Giving Down in 2020, after Rising in 2019; Urban Edge Responds

June 23, 2020 — Charitable giving dropped 6% in the first quarter of 2020, after rising 4.2% last year, as more than four out of five nonprofits reported revenue declines in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, moves that have prompted creation of emergency aid funds, including a newly announced fund launched by Urban Edge in Boston.

The first-quarter decline in charitable giving, reported yesterday by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, based on an analysis of 2,500 nonprofits nationally, was announced less than a week after the Giving USA foundation released its annual report on charitable giving that showed increases in individual, foundation, and corporate giving to nonprofits in 2019 compared to the year before.

The reports follow an announcement last week by Independent Sector, a coalition of nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs, that, based on a recently completed survey, 47%of nonprofits that employ between 500 and 5,000 people reported they were forced to cut employment due to the pandemic.

"Notably, 83% of organizations reported a decline in revenue stemming from the loss of revenue typically made at conferences, events or other activities, a reduction in individual giving, and a reduction in grants received," Independent Sector said. "These significant losses have hit organizations’ ability to fulfill their missions—71% reporting a reduction in services or available operations—and maintain their work forces."

Urban Edge Launches Neighborhood Emergency Response Fund to Address Pandemic

Urban Edge, a Boston-based community development nonprofit that operates in the city and surrounding communities, last week announced has launched a $500,000 neighborhood emergency response fund, called the Urban Edge Resiliency Fund, to directly assist families and individuals living in Urban Edge’s housing, as well as low- to moderate-income families in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain, impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color in Boston and throughout the country,” said Emilio Dorcely, Urban Edge’s chief executive officer. “A majority of the cases in the city of Boston are among black and brown residents. That means that neighborhoods like Roxbury and Jamaica Plain are particularly vulnerable. This fund is designed to help our residents meet their needs.”

Urban Edge said it is providing $250,000 in resources to the fund, with an additional $225,000 coming from TD Charitable Foundation, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, NeighborWorks America, and other donors. The organization added it will work with the community to use these dollars to help raise the final $25,000 through a crowdfunding campaign.

Charitable Giving Nationally Rose 4.2% in 2019 over 2018 Levels

American individuals, bequests, foundations, and corporations gave an estimated $449.64 billion to U.S. charities in 2019, placing it among the highest years ever for charitable giving, according to findings in Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019, released last week by the Giving USA Foundation.

Total charitable giving rose 4.2% measured in current dollars (2.4% adjusted for inflation) over the revised total of $431.43 billion contributed in 2018, the foundation said. Measured in current dollars, giving in 2019 reached the highest dollar total to date.

Giving last year varied by donor source:

  • Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $309.66 billion, rising 4.7% in 2019 (an increase of 2.8%, adjusted for inflation). Giving by individuals achieved the second-highest total dollar amount on record, adjusted for inflation, and was less than 70% of total giving for only the second time ever.

  • Giving by foundations increased 2.5%, to an estimated $75.69 billion in 2019 (a flat growth rate of 0.7%, adjusted for inflation), reaching its highest-ever dollar amount. Giving by foundations has grown in nine of the last 10 years, and represented 17% of total giving for the second year in a row, the largest share on record. Data on giving by foundations are provided by Candid.

  • Giving by bequest was an estimated $43.21 billion in 2019, and was essentially flat with a growth rate of 0.2% from 2018 (a decline of 1.6%, adjusted for inflation). Giving by bequest often fluctuates substantially from year to year.

  • Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 13.4% in 2019, totaling $21.09 billion (an increase of 11.4%, adjusted for inflation). This significant growth is indicative of this type of giving, which is highly responsive to changes in corporate pre-tax profits and GDP, and its year-over-year trend lines tend to be more turbulent as a result.
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