Patterns are Developing…

By susanlienau | May 11, 2020 | Uncategorized
Patterns are developing for giving during COVID-19.

In only a few weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused more than 73,000 deaths in the United States and more than 264,000 worldwide, and has disrupted lives around the globe.

The nonprofit sector has been affected, too. Hospitals and medical centers are on the front lines caring for the sick and human service organizations are filling an unprecedented need for food, shelter, and emergency financial assistance. Society has come to a halt, social distancing rules are in effect, and people are finding new ways to carry on everyday life. Nonprofit organizations have been forced to assess how they will meet the new needs presented by this pandemic, and more importantly find new ways to raise funds, which are needed now more than ever.

Since the onset, Averill has been closely monitoring the role this health crisis is playing on the giving patterns of donors, and there is positive news! 

In two recent studies, by Fidelity Charitable and the Chronicle of Philanthropy, 1,842 adults and 353 adults were interviewed, respectively, to assess donor behavior and surface findings amid the pandemic. Here’s what they found:

  • 25% of donors plan on increasing their giving and 54% will maintain their giving in 2020, versus what they gave in 2019.
  • Most donors are very concerned (44%) or somewhat concerned (40%) on the impact COVID-19 will have on human service organizations (such as homeless shelters and food banks) and their ability to meet demands arising from COVID-19.
  • Most donors are very concerned (42%) or somewhat concerned (35%) on the impact that COVID-19 will have on health or medical research organizations to treat victims and identify vaccines.
  • Americans plan on reducing their volunteer time dramatically, with nearly half (47%) suggesting their volunteer time will decrease or stop entirely due to the pandemic.
  • More (48%) will give to faith-based organizations than gave (45%) in the 12 months preceding COVID-19.
  • More Americans say they will give more to hospitals and health organizations than they have in the past. While only 34% of respondents gave to a public health clinic or not-for-profit hospital in the 12 months preceding the pandemic, 50% said they have given or plan to give to such an organization this year.
  • While support for environmental or educational nonprofits has slipped since the crisis began, nearly 60% of respondents will continue to support human service organizations as they did in 2019.

You might be wondering – What does this all mean?

The findings in these studies are similar to those that were surfaced following the recession that started in 2008. Human service and faith-based organizations were perceived in those studies as receiving greater generosity as the Great Recession took hold, and indeed they did. Professional fundraisers have been predicting a similar outcome as a result of COVID-19, with giving to hospitals and health care organizations also increasing. These studies, and the needs that frontline medical personnel are experiencing, seem to confirm that giving to hospitals and healthcare organizations may increase as the crisis continues.

If 2008/2009 is a guide, these findings also mean that nonprofit organizations will have to compete like never before to raise the money they need to meet their missions.

There are other takeaways we have from the Great Recession:

  • Don’t withdraw.
  • Hold your events – virtually!
  • It may take longer to raise the money.
  • Capital campaigns will take longer.
  • If it cost your organization 15 cents to raise a dollar in 2019, it may cost 18-20 cents to do so in 2020, and beyond.
  • More staff may be needed.

In these times of uncertainty, history has proven – when fundraisers remain persistent and assertive, donors will respond with great generosity!

For more of our thoughts on engaging supporters during COVID-19, please click here.

Averill Fundraising Solutions stands with you through these challenging times, and is available to talk with you about the thoughts outlined in this memo, YOUR thoughts, and all your advancement needs. Email us at or call us at 888-321-1810.

From the desk of: 

Robert C. Happy, Jr. – President, Averill Fundraising Solutions

Bob Happy has more than 35 years of experience providing expert leadership and direction to clients across the not-for-profit sector. During his career, Bob has served more than 2,000 clients and has guided them to raise more than $3,500,000,000.

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