Episode 28: How Civic Engagement Changes in Times of Crisis

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.

Episode 42: Bitcoin and the Future Of Fundraising...

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The American Cancer Society aims to raise $1 million exclusively through cryptocurrency. Its Cancer Crypto Fund will be renamed in honor of the first donor to contribute $250,000. Donations of at least $10,000 will appear on the Cancer Crypto Fund Wall of Honor. The Salvation Army launched a cryptocurrency option the week before Christmas and […]

Episode 41: Multi-Channel Donor Communications...

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Research shows that multi-channel donors can be worth more than donors who give only online or only offline. But do nonprofits treat multi-channel donors like they’re worth two or three times more to their organization? A recent experiment looked at how nonprofits respond after a gift and the results could surprise you. Gabe Cooper,  CEO […]

Episode 40: The Great DAF Debate...

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Donor-advised funds (DAF) have dominated philanthropy in any number of ways over the past decade, whether it’s increasing charitable contributions, boosting assets, or simply garnering attention within the public square. That could be why it takes a super sized episode of Fresh Research tackle the topic. This episode diverges from the usual format; instead of […]

Episode 39: Best Nonprofits To Work For 2021...

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Even for the Best Nonprofits To Work For, 2020 was a difficult year. The United States Tennis Association Mid-Atlantic Section (USTA MAS) rarely has any voluntary turnover among its 21 employees. But like at many nonprofits, the pandemic forced difficult decisions. The organization laid off about one-third of its staff in July. It was among […]

Bonus Episode: Charitable Crowdfunding...

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A new report examines how crowdfunding fits into the larger philanthropic landscape and perceptions of crowdfunding by both crowdfunding donors and non-crowdfunding donors while also looking at charitable behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study, Charitable Crowdfunding: Who Gives, to What, and Why? by Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, uses data from […]

Episode 38: A Year Into The Pandemic...

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For a lot of nonprofits, it’s been a year of working remotely, replacing in-person events with virtual events and trying to make it through the next quarter. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Pam Keough would have described herself as one of those bosses who believes everyone needs to be in the office. Now, it’s not so […]

Episode 37: Outlook for Charitable Giving...

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Early indicators show that charitable giving was up in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Projections for giving in 2021 and 2022 are even rosier. Charitable giving is expected to increase 4.1% this year, buoyed by individual giving (+6%), and another 5.7% in 2022 on the strength of increased giving via foundations (+8.8%) and […]

Episode 36: Blackbaud Institute Charitable Giving Report...

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Overall giving rose 2% in 2020 compared to 2019 while online donations grew 21%, according to the Blackbaud Institute Charitable Giving Report. Steve MacLaughlin, vice president, production management, at Blackbaud, visits this episode of the Fresh Research podcast to break down the data and what you need to know about 2020 giving. The report is […]

Episode 35: 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report...

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Donor-advised funds (DAF) in 2019 continued their meteoric growth over the past decade and in the first half of 2020 — amidst the coronavirus pandemic — grantmaking by DAFs increased by almost 30 percent. The 2020 Donor-Advised Fund Report is the most comprehensive data on donor-advised funds (DAFs) in the United States. The latest report, […]

Episode 34: Nonprofit Jobs Report...

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Since 1.6 million nonprofit jobs were lost in the three months after the pandemic was declared, steady growth in nonprofit jobs each month was derailed in December, wiping out nearly two months of gains. It’s projected to take 1.5 years for the sector to recover entirely but within most fields it could be a year […]

Episode 33: Effects of overhead on donor decisions...

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If there was a list of dirty words for the nonprofit sector, overhead would likely be number one on the list. In spite of efforts like The Overhead Myth, it can still be a source of frustration for nonprofit employees and executives yet donors still seem to be hung up on the phrase. Ellie Heng […]

Episode 32: The 2020 NPT 100...

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The nation’s largest nonprofits reported aggregate revenue of $86.4 billion in 2019, which is up 1 percent over the previous year. Those figures come from The NonProfit Times‘ 2020 NPT 100 report, a study of the largest nonprofits in the United States. Jacob Harold, executive vice president at Candid, shares his insights during a discussion about […]

Episode 31: Unlocking Generosity with AI...

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The use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is exploding and the next few years will be huge for nonprofits in adopting the technology as a strategic tool, from the program side to the fundraising side. Authors Beth Kanter and Allison Fine join this episode of The NonProfit Times‘ Fresh Research podcast to discuss their paper, “Unlocking […]

Episode 30: Charitable Estate Gifts...

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It’s nothing new to fundraisers and planned gift officers that women and childless couples are the prime prospects for bequests and other estate gifts. New research suggests that those are still huge factors in the process but timing your nonprofit’s communication based on recency of gifts might be exactly the wrong way to go. Russell […]

Episode 29: Charity Navigator Encompass Rating System...

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Charity Navigator this month unveiled the first pillar of its new rating system. Years in the making, the Encompass Rating System (ERS) expands the number of charities rated from 9,000 to almost 160,000. President and CEO Michael Thatcher joins the Fresh Research podcast to explain the four “beacons” that will comprise the 100-point rating system: […]

Episode 28: How Civic Engagement Changes in Times of Crisis...

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  • News |

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 […]

Episode 27: Generosity Across Income And Wealth...

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The percentage of household income given to charity each year generally runs about 2 percent across most income levels, but goes up with wealth, according to a new research paper.   Benjamin Priday, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Economics at Texas A&M University, joined the Fresh Research podcast to discuss, “Generosity Across Income and […]

Episode 26: Best Nonprofits To Work For...

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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 […]

Episode 25: Coronavirus And Your Message To Donors...

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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 […]

Episode 24: Appeals to Donor Benefits Versus Recipient Benefits...

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This episode of Fresh Research tackles the options when it comes to donors appeals. Should your appeal take aim at the donor and benefits to them, or instead remind them how their gift would benefit the community? John List, the Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago collaborated with  James J. Murphy […]