The Pandemic Has Made Us More Charitable

The Pandemic Has Made Us More Charitable

Financial pressures haven't stopped people from giving
young couple making donation online

The pandemic has brought on new financial pressures for many. Despite inflation and other hardships, people are still maintaining a sense of philanthropy. In a new survey conducted by Versta Research on behalf of Wells Fargo, 95% of respondents said that giving makes them feel good, and that the pandemic has highlighted new opportunities to give. Some even reported wishing they were able to give more. Here's how giving habits have changed.

Giving trends

According to various surveys, the pandemic is bringing out a more charitable side of people. In a December survey from Popmenu, 58% of respondents said they are now tipping restaurant workers more. People living in affluent households also report making significant increases in their giving since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Wells Fargo survey, 57% say that the pandemic has changed their level of giving. Here's what has shifted:

  • 46% are giving more because of the pandemic, versus 11% who say they're giving less
  • 67% sometimes feel like they do not give enough
  • 62% of Gen Z and 58% of millennials have a hard time saying "no" to donation solicitations, versus 50% of the general population

Of those who feel they don't give enough, younger generations lead the pack. In addition to difficulties saying "no" to a solicitation, the majority of millennials (74%) and Gen Zers (76%) report feeling as if their giving had fallen short. The survey does not make it clear whether this sentiment is caused by giving less than other groups or is simply a reflection of the desire to do more.

The survey also made clear that many of those who give money, have not planned to do so, and haven't necessarily made room in their budgets for giving. Only 29% said they plan their donations each year, and just 14% have a yearly budget for donations. By contrast, the vast majority (71%) tend to give based on when they feel "moved."

New channels for giving

Relatively new channels for making donations, like crowdfunding, social media and checkout lines, may be making it easier for people to give those spontaneous financial gifts. In the survey, 79% of respondents said they appreciate having newer ways to give and 46% of respondents reported having used a newer channel for their giving this year. These were the most popular new methods for giving:

  • GoFundMe (35%)
  • Social media donation buttons (19%)
  • Direct giving to web entertainers and information sites like Wikipedia (16%)

Not surprisingly, newer methods are most commonly used by millennials (57%) versus just 34% of baby boomers.

Crowdfunding and other new modes for facilitating philanthropy are generally centered around giving money, but younger survey respondents might choose other types of giving if alternatives were available. In the Wells Fargo survey, about half of Gen Z respondents (52%) and millennials (48%) said they would rather donate time than money, versus 36% of all respondents who said the same.

Methodology: Versta Research conducted a national online survey of 811 U.S. adults on behalf of Wells Fargo & Company. The survey was conducted Nov. 4-16, 2021 and results were provided to Wells Fargo & Company on Nov. 30, 2021. While the study didn’t indicate which definitions it used for the various generations, many pollsters use cutoffs similar to those of Pew Research: Generation Z is described as those ages 18 to 23, millennials as those 24 to 39, Generation X as covering ages 40 to 55 and baby boomers as 56 to 74.