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January 18, 2021
Indicators Are Mixed on Yearend Donor Intentions, and into 2021
2020 2021

November 30, 2020 — Will donors give or won’t they during the traditional end-of-year fundraising push and into 2021 is the question on the minds of many Massachusetts nonprofits, and recently completed research suggests that the answer is…maybe.

Here’s why, based on several recently completed national surveys:

  • 35% of Americans expect to donate less money or no money to charitable causes in the coming year as the economic crisis and high unemployment linger, according to Eagle Hill Consulting’s 2020 Non-Profit Charitable Giving and Volunteering Survey, completed last month.

  • 24% of donor households this fall said they are finding their financial situation either very or extremely challenging, up from 22% in April, according to the Dunham+Company donor confidence study, and 28% most recently said they would give less to charities this year.

  • However, online charitable donations made tomorrow, on #GivingTuesday, could reach $605 million this year, 18% more than last year, predicts Whole Whale, a digital agency, according to a report in The NonProfit Times.

"As charitable organizations approach Giving Tuesday and plan for 2021 during a tough economic climate, it will be increasingly important for nonprofit teams to dig deep into the preferences and plans of their donor and volunteer base," said Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of Eagle Hill Consulting.

"Nonprofit teams may need to re-calibrate both who and how they are asking for support so that it is more personalized and responsive to the specific preferences and values of their stakeholders."

Other findings from Eagle Hill, based on 1,005 survey responses, include the following:

  • The top charitable causes Americans plan to support in 2021 include social services (34%); education (25%); religious organizations (22%); health (21%); COVID-19 (20%); environment/climate change (20%); and racial justice (19%).

  • The causes for support in 2021 vary of by age. The top causes younger Americans (age 18-34) plan to support include social services (32%), education (31%) and racial justice (30%) causes. Older Americans also plan to support social services (37%), but plan to give to religious (31%) and medical research (22%) causes.

  • More than half (52%) of Americans do not plan to volunteer or will volunteer less next year. However, 31% of respondents aged 18-34 plan to volunteer more time next year than this year, compared to 14% for those aged 55 and older. People with children in their household typically volunteer substantially more (60%) than those who do not have children (36%) .

Donors' personal financial situation is the main reason they expect to give less this year, according to the Dunham+Company survey of 630 donors who gave $20 or more in 2019, with 66% citing their finances. Another 13% said the economy is the reason they expect to give less, and 12% said it was the coronavirus pandemic, down from 25% last spring.

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