The findings serve as a starting point for understanding changes in individual giving in response to the COVID-19 pandemic as it continues to unfold. While research on philanthropy in the aftermath of disasters and during economic recessions offers takeaways on how household giving might change, the distinct features of the “dual crises” of a global pandemic and accompanying economic downturn defy comparison with previous events.
1. Around one-third of U.S. households gave directly to charitable organizations, individuals, or businesses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic during the initial months of the crisis.
2. Nearly half of households gave indirectly in response to the pandemic during the early months of the crisis (for example, by ordering takeout to support restaurants and their employees, or continuing to pay individuals and businesses for services they could not render).
3. The majority of U.S. households’ giving stayed the same during the initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic; however, those who reported changes were more likely to say their giving decreased rather than increased as a result of the crisis.
4. Households were more likely to decrease than increase their giving as a result of conditions present during the early months of the pandemic (such as uncertainty about the spread of the virus and further economic impacts).
5. Single women were more likely than single men and married/partnered couples to decrease their giving as a result of specific elements of the COVID-19 pandemic during the initial months of the crisis.
This study provides new insight on how U.S. households responded philanthropically in this unique environment. The findings can help nonprofit and fundraising practitioners adjust their individual giving strategies as the current crisis continues, as well as inform their approaches to future crises.
To download the full report, click here.
Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy. Learn more at https://philanthropy.iupui.edu/wpi.
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs, and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, and Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Learn more at https://philanthropy.iupui.edu/.