Nearly 2 in 5 Americans Plan to Give More to Charity This Year Than Last Year

Nearly 2 in 5 Americans Plan to Give More to Charity This Year Than Last Year

24% say the pandemic has led them to donate more
An envelope containing money

The pandemic may be driving economic uncertainty, but it’s not stopping consumers from opening their wallets to charities. Nearly 2 in 5 consumers — 39% — said they will ‘definitely’ or ‘probably’ give more to nonprofit organizations in 2020 than they did in 2019, according to new research by online fundraising platform Classy.

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, health causes are top of mind for many when deciding where to donate. Social justice causes have also seen a boost.

Consumers recognizing a greater need amid pandemic

The year 2020 has been challenging for many not only because of the health crisis, but also because of financial troubles, political strife and protests against systemic racism. Of the respondents who said they would be giving more this year than last year, a third — 33% — said they were doing so because societal needs seemed greater this year than in years past.

Though disaster relief was the top cause that consumers donated to in 2018 and 2019, health causes were most popular this year. Of respondents, 46% said health causes needed the most support, followed by disaster relief (34%) and education (31%).

The pandemic, in particular, has influenced giving behavior. More than half of respondents — 59% — said the COVID-19 outbreak has had an impact on their charitable giving this year, and 24% of respondents said the pandemic has caused them to give more this year than last year.

When asked why they’ve changed their giving plans due to the pandemic, respondents cited the following reasons:

  • Nonprofits need more help now than they did before the pandemic (39%)
  • Their income had changed during the crisis (36%)
  • They have become more passionate about issues since the start of the pandemic (33%)
  • They have more time to research organizations to give to (29%)
  • They were donating their economic impact payment received as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) (21%)

In fact, those most impacted by the pandemic may be more likely to give to pandemic-related causes. Among essential workers — those who could not work from home during the pandemic — 33% said they would be giving more because of COVID-19 compared to 22% of nonessential workers. On top of that, 16% of essential workers said they were not making any charitable contributions this year, a smaller percentage than the 25% of nonessential workers.

Social justice causes see a boost in giving

This year also saw a rise in support for social justice causes. In fact, 42% of respondents said they are either planning to donate money to an organization fighting for social justice or they already have. Of that group, more than half — 58% — said this year was the first time they donated to a social justice cause.

More than 4 in 10 (43%) of those who are planning to give to social justice causes said their donation would be in addition to what they planned to give to other causes. However, 32% said their donation to a social justice cause would replace a charitable gift they would have given to a different cause.

Methodology: Classy surveyed 1,000 adults in September 2020.