Workplace giving in support of political and social causes and in response to current events in the United States has increased significantly since 2016, a report from giving platform Benevity finds.
The report, Of the People, by the People, for the People: What Politically Charged Giving Trends Mean for Companies in 2020 (19 pages, PDF), analyzed workplace giving in five issue areas — income inequality, immigration, women's rights, climate change, and gun safety — among more than a million Benevity users at 350 companies between January 2016 and September 2019 and found that nearly 240,000 donors gave a total of $332 million to nearly 7,800 nonprofits. While those five issue areas received only about 9 percent of total giving through the Benevity platform over that period, they also saw the largest spikes in giving in response to real-world events, a trend that first surfaced in 2016.
Among the five issue areas, income inequality received $102 million, or 31 percent of the $332 million total, followed by immigration ($90.8 million, 27 percent), women's rights ($83.6 million, 25 percent), climate change ($53.7 million, 16 percent), and gun safety ($2.8 million, 1 percent). After Hurricane Harvey swamped the greater Houston region in August 2017, giving in support of income inequality jumped 100 percent from August 2016 levels (over and above Benevity's business growth); following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, in February 2018, donations to gun safety organizations spiked 860 percent; and when news of family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border was widely reported in July 2018, donations to immigration groups jumped 240 percent. In September 2018, when the Senate held confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, donations to women's rights nonprofits increased 40 percent, while the outbreak of fires in the Amazon basin in August 2019 saw donations spike 75 percent.
According to the report, although such spikes in response to current events are not generally sustained over the long term, donations to those five causes in 2019 have already exceeded 2016 levels and have nearly doubled since 2015.
Beyond the five political and social issue areas, the ten charities that received the most workplace donations through Benevity in 2019 through September were St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Planned Parenthood, the National State Cancer Societies, the American Red Cross, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Doctors Without Borders, the ACLU, the National State Heart and Stroke Foundations, PTA California Congress of Parents and Teachers, and Boys and Girls Clubs.