The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated certain trends in giving, including increased use of digital giving tools and a shift in the causes donors see as important, a study from Fidelity Charitable finds.
Based on a March 2020 survey of more than three thousand adults in the United States who donated at least $1,000 to charity in 2019 and a follow-up survey in January of eight hundred an thirty individuals who donated at least $1,000 to charity in 2020, the report, The future of philanthropy: The evolution from charitable giving to charitable living, found that many donors are embracing new approaches to giving.
For example, nearly 60 percent of donors made gifts through a charity’s website in 2020, with 18 percent indicating they did so more frequently than in previous years, while 40 percent of those who have made a donation in 2021 ranked hunger as one of the top three challenges facing the world (up from 34 percent pre-pandemic), with access to basic health services coming in second (31 percent) and the number of donors listing racial discrimination as one of the top three challenges nearly doubling (16 percent in 2021, from 9 percent in 2020).
Fidelity Charitable president Pamela Norley said, “Charitable giving is quickly becoming charitable living, impacting not just the nonprofit sector, but the way we work, play, and invest more broadly. There is an entirely new mindset among younger generations shaping what it means to give back. Three in four Millennials consider themselves philanthropists, regardless of how much they give, compared to only one in three boomers.”
The survey also found that donors are increasingly reconsidering their definition of philanthropy. Rather than giving money to charity, for example, half of all donors cited the purchase of products from socially responsible businesses as philanthropy; 20 percent said they had engaged in impact investing and considered social or environmental factors when making investment decisions; and 70 percent said they believe it is important to work for a company that embraces corporate social responsibility.
In addition, the survey found that millennials are more likely than older cohorts to engage in newer methods of giving and to describe themselves as philanthropists (74 percent vs 35 percent of boomers and 48 percent for Gen X).
While the survey found that only 57 percent of donors indicated they are somewhat optimistic about the future (and 20 percent saying they are not at all optimistic), younger donors expressed more confidence, with 40 percent of millennials saying they are very optimistic, compared to 15 percent of boomers and 22 percent of Gen X.