The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the nonprofit sector in a number of ways. What effect COVID-19 might have on charitable behavior, like volunteering, remains to be seen. In this episode, we talk to Nathan Dietz, associate research scholar at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a senior researcher at its Do Good Institute.
He and Robert Grimm co-authored “Community In Crisis: A Look at How U.S. Charitable Actions and Civic Engagement Change in Times of Crisis.” The 12-page report looks at charitable behavior after three crises: the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the Great Recession.
“Given the dramatic and sudden changes in social life, many observers believe the novel coronavirus pandemic is likely to exert a much larger impact on civic engagement in America than any other event in recent history. Already, observers are drawing contrasts with the Great Recession, which did not seem to have a lasting impact on many charitable and civic trends,” according to the report.
“Like a lot of research reports that have come out recently, this was just driven by the immediacy” of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis, Dietz said. “We talked about it in mid-March, put something out about what happens with charitable behavior when a big national crisis hits,” he said. “The scope of this crisis was going to be unlike anything else,” he said of the pandemic, adding that the Great Recession affected the entire country and lasted almost two years.
“We were interested in not just what happened in places where it happened, whether there was a surge in activity — which is what we expected — we were interested in what happens after that; after the crisis drops off the front page of out-of-town newspapers. How long before engagement and civic activities drop back to normal,” Dietz said.
The percentage of adults who volunteered through or for organizations reached their highest levels nationally and in the New York City metropolitan area in the years after Sept. 11. Volunteer rates from 2006 to 2015 have never been as high as the rates from the early post-Sept. 11 years, both nationally or in the New York City region.
There was a burst of activity right after crises in New Orleans and New York City, with people starting to serve at higher rates by the mid-2010s, what was happening nationally was happening in those areas as well, Dietz said. Both local and visiting volunteers in New Orleans boosted the volunteer rate there by as much as 20 percent. “It’s also a good illustration of what people do and to what extent people respond in extreme ways when fellow Americans need help,” Dietz said.
Between 2006 and 2012, the national adult volunteer rate was never higher than 27 percent and never less than 26 percent. By about 2013, there started to be a significant decline in all charitable indicators, and by 2015, the rate hit a 15-year low of 24.9 percent.
“We saw it in New Orleans in a shocking way because the declines were so severe, between the early and mid 2010s,” Dietz said. “That made us realize that even though there was something going on nationwide — maybe discouraging participation in some sense — it was even happening, in places where not that long ago, there had been a surge in civic activity,” he said.
“What we’re seeing now is very different, mainly because of the social distancing and sheltering in place regulations we’re all having to live under. That’s disrupted business as usual for many nonprofits,” Dietz said.
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The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the nonprofit sector in a number of ways. What effect COVID-19 might have on charitable behavior, like volunteering, remains to be seen. In this episode, we talk to Nathan Dietz, associate research scholar at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a senior researcher at its Do Good […]
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“I feel I am valued in this organization.” “I can trust what this organization tells me.” “Most days, I feel I have made progress at work.” Those are three of the top 10 drivers identified in the 2020 Best Nonprofits To Work For. The special report appears annually in the April edition of The NonProfit […]
Regular programming for the Fresh Research podcast has been pre-empted this month to tackle the the issue that has impacted life worldwide the past few weeks: the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). The NonProfit Times recently hosted a webinar on mail and digital messaging to donors during COVID-19, which has led to widespread shutdowns of non-essential business […]
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The number of taxpayers who itemized last year has been in steep decline, according to the latest Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data. Why? And why is that important? Well, most charitable giving in the U.S. comes from itemizers. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 nearly doubled the standard deduction. Fewer than 1 in […]
The nonprofit sector employs some 12.3 million people and accounts for more than 10 percent of the workforce in the United States. Payrolls exceed that of construction, finance and transportation. The number of nonprofits has increased by almost 75 percent between 2000 and 2016. There are 1.425 million nonprofits in the United States, including almost […]
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Two researchers at Princeton University took a closer look at charitable donations to analyze how the philanthropic behavior of Millennials compares to earlier generations. “Are Millennials Really So Selfish? Preliminary evidence from the Philanthropy Panel Study” was published by Harvey Rosen, The John L. Weinberg Professor of Economics and Business Policy Emeritus at Princeton University, […]
The 13th annual M+R Benchmarks Study is chock full of data almost as far as the eye can see. That’s what happens when you analyze 4.4 million emails sent to 37.5 million email addresses, more than 7 million online gifts and $376 million raised, all from a variety of 135 nonprofits of all shapes and […]
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More charitable giving than ever is coming from high-income households while the donor universe has been shrinking for years. Those are some of the concerns identified in “Gilded Giving 2018: Top Heavy Philanthropy and Its Perils to the Independent Sector and Democracy.” Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the […]