Donors Say They’ll Continue To Increase Giving

A year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic, donors remain committed to philanthropy with most planning to maintain or even further increase their donations in 2021. Some 27% of donors said they gave significantly more in 2020 than they did the previous year. 

And as they plan their giving this year, more than nine-in-10 said they will give the same or more in 2021 than they did during 2020. 

Those are among the responses to a survey by Fidelity Charitable. It was of individual donors and not necessarily holders of donor-advised fund accounts. It was conducted this past July and early August by Artemis Strategy Group, an independent research firm, on behalf of Fidelity Charitable. The study examined the effect of COVID-19 on giving behavior among 701 adults in the U.S. who donated at least $1,000 to charity in 2020.

The pandemic spotlighted issues related to curing diseases, addressing hunger and responding to local community needs and donors will continue to support these causes. Many donors say that their experiences in 2020 made them more aware of certain issues in the world — particularly development of cures for diseases (42%), local community needs (34%) and hunger (32%). Greater awareness is reflected in their 2021 giving plans. Roughly 30% of donors plan to give more to these issues than they did in 2020, according to the survey respondents. 

Donors could also continue to embrace new channels and methods for giving in 2021. In addition to making adjustments to the causes they support due to their experiences during the pandemic, some donors also made changes to how they give. Increases in making socially responsible consumer decisions, supporting vulnerable individuals and embracing digital tools to give continue to endure. In fact, nearly three in 10 said they will purchase more products from socially responsible businesses in 2021. 

Some 28% of respondents said they will make more donations online. And the same number say they will give more money directly to individuals, family or friends.

One-third of respondents said that they plan to volunteer more and many will do at least some of their volunteer activities virtually. After a difficult year for the many nonprofits that rely on volunteer labor to provide services, volunteers are looking to get back to work—and many are planning to increase their involvement. Thirty-5% of donors would like to spend more time volunteering in the future.

But volunteerism might not look quite the same. During the pandemic, 30% of respondents said they volunteered virtually, compared to only 17% before the pandemic. While many are looking forward to returning to in-person opportunities, virtual volunteerism is here to stay. One-third of donors said they plan to participate in virtual volunteer activities moving forward.

Looking to the future, one-third of donors think that 2020 will have a long-term impact on their approach to charitable giving. The events of 2020 caused shifts in giving methods and attitudes that will endure for many donors. One-third responded that the events of the past year — including the pandemic and social justice issues — will have a long-term influence on the amount they give to charity, the causes they support and the channels through which they donate.