U.S. charities saw jump in gifts, donations in first half of year

U.S. charities saw jump in gifts, donations in first half of year

Charitable giving to large U.S. nonprofits in the first half of the year rose as donors stepped up their support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports.

The Chronicle's analysis of survey data from 107 charities accounting for roughly 10 percent of the nearly $450 billion donated in the U.S. last year found that gifts and donation of cash, stock, and products from foundations, corporations, and individuals jumped an estimated 21 percent on a year-over-year basis. For most of the organizations included in the analysis, the overall increase was driven by a spike in gifts and donations in the second quarter, with giving surging nearly 41 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Many nonprofits told the Chronicle that income from gifts and donations has remained healthy in the months since.

According to the analysis, food banks saw some of the biggest increases. Donations to the Houston Food Bank, for example, increased 112 percent in the first quarter, 797 percent in the second quarter, and 468 percent for the first half of the year, while the Greater Chicago Food Depository saw increases of 182 percent, 657 percent, and 380 percent; the San Antonio Food Bank saw increases of 61 percent, 681 percent, and 397 percent; and Second Harvest Inland Northwest, which serves the greater Spokane area, saw increases of 166 percent, 298 percent, and 242 percent. Community foundations also saw healthy increases, with the Nevada Community Foundation seeing gift income jump 610 percent in the first quarter, 1,563 percent in the second quarter, and 1,389 percent over the first half of the year; the Grand Rapids Community Foundation seeing increases of 1,461 percent, 276 percent, and 930 percent; and the Foundation for the Carolinas recording increases of 58 percent, 469 percent, and 293 percent.

In contrast, many human services and international aid organizations had an up-and-down first half of the year. United Way Worldwide, for instance, saw income fall 94 percent in the first quarter, jump 271 percent in the second quarter, and fall 69 percent for the first half of the year; The Y saw income fall 65 percent in the first quarter, jump 120 percent in the second quarter, and come in relatively flat at 6 percent for the first half of the year; and Population Services International saw income increase 41 percent in the first quarter, fall 84 percent in the second quarter, and fall 58 percent for the first six months of the year. And while gifts and donations to the CDC Foundation surged in the first half of the year (438 percent, 641 percent, and 557 percent), many health-related charities experienced declines in income, among them the Patient Access Network Foundation (-49 percent, 16 percent, and -26 percent); the American Cancer Society (76 percent, -52 percent, and -20 percent); and Planned Parenthood Federation of America (14 percent, -33 percent, and -12 percent). 

According to the Chronicle, of the ninety-five charities that answered a survey question about giving, sixty-two reported an increase in the number of gifts from wealthy donors in the first six months of the year, while fifty-five reported an increase in the number of small gifts.

"The people who had good jobs, good incomes, had assets — they recovered just fine in most cases, but poorer people, lower-income people, people of color have gotten decimated," said United Way Worldwide CEO Brian Gallagher. "Anyone who's in a position to give is giving the same or more. But you've got tens of millions who aren't in a position [to do so]."

(Photo credit: Greater Chicago Food Depository)

Michael Theis. "How big charities are faring in their fundraising amid COVID." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/28/2020. Eden Stiffman, Michael Theis, Emily Haynes. "Fundraising in uncertain times." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/28/2020.