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January 18, 2021
Study: Pandemic Spurred Giving and Donors Plan to Give More
Fundraising Up

November 24, 2020 — The coronavirus pandemic, which has left nearly 13 million people unemployed nationally, and sidelined 270,000 in Massachusetts, has fueled charitable giving this year, a newly completed study has found.

Nearly one-quarter of (24%) of 1,000 people nationwide surveyed for Classy, a provider of fundraising software for nonprofits, said the pandemic has caused them to give more this year in comparison to last year.

Thirty-nine percent of said they definitely or probably plan to give more during the holiday season this year, compared to last year, while 44% said they will give the same as last year.

Among those who plan to give more, 33% said they will because societal needs seem greater this year. Of those who plan to donate less in 2020, 54% indicated it was because their economic circumstances changed this year.

Other key survey findings include the following:

  • Health causes ranked ahead of disaster relief and education for the first time: Health causes rose to the top this year, ahead of disaster relief, which was the number one cause that Americans supported in 2018 and 2019.

  • The fight against social justice is introducing new donors to racial equality causes: 42% of survey respondents said they had donated or planned to donate to social justice causes in 2020, with a majority of respondents noting that they are giving for the first time. Over half (58%) said that 2020 was the first year they had ever donated to this type of cause.

  • Politics plays a role in giving: After the 2016 election, nonprofits in certain cause categories witnessed an increase in charitable donations, often referred to as the "Trump Bump." Similar to four years ago, this year more than one-third (37%) of Americans stated that they would donate to organizations that support their political beliefs if their preferred candidate lost.

  • With cancelled in-person events, virtual fundraising events became an effective means of generating attention and donations: This year's survey data shows that nearly one-third of Americans (30%) said they have supported or participated in a virtual charity event since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Of those, the majority (60%) said they actually donated and/or raised more in the virtual environment than they have for past in-person events.

  • Giving Tuesday is gaining traction among Americans: 54% of Americans are familiar with or have at least heard of Giving Tuesday, the highest level of consumer awareness since Classy began conducting this report in 2018.

Even before COVID-19 forced many Americans to work and socialize from home, donors were increasingly choosing to engage with and donate to nonprofits online, according to Classy.

This year, when respondents were asked how they would prefer to make donations in the future, the top two channels were via a website on the computer (37%) and through an app or mobile site on a smartphone or tablet (33%).

The largest proportion of the Gen Z, millennials, and even Gen X generations stated that they’d prefer making donations via an app or mobile site on their smartphone. Baby boomers selected a website on the computer as their top channel, and the Silent Generation preferred mail-in donations.

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