United Black Fund Commentary

Measuring Covid-19’s Impact on Philanthropic Giving 

Just as the Covid-19 has impacted so many other aspects of society, the pandemic seems to be having a significant uneven impact on giving among various charities locally and nationally.

Based on reports reviewed for the year since the outbreak was labeled a “worldwide pandemic” in March 2020, the level and type of philanthropy to various nonprofit organizations and causes seemed uneven. 

According to the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and the nonprofit group, Candid, $11.9 billion was given to address the Covid-19 pandemic during the first half of 2020, far exceeding giving to alleviate previous natural disasters – such as Hurricane Harvey (nearly $342.8 million) and the Australian bushfires ($152.4 million).

According to their comparison, the two groups reported that philanthropic spending on Covid-19 during the first half of 2020 was 16 times the total combined funding on the bushfires and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian.

However, during that same period, the groups reported that only five percent of total philanthropic dollars went to foundations and charities devoted to communities of color.

But in the middle of 2020, giving to nonprofit organizations dedicated to minority communities – specifically African-American communities – reported a “summer surge” of philanthropic giving. Most of that surge reflected public outrage over the dramatic killings of African-Americans George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, and the resulting Black Lives Matter protests, which raged during the Summer of 2020.

According to Candid, the amount of donations given to organizations committed to racial equity totaled approximately $6.5 billion, up to the third quarter of quarter of 2020. This was nearly double the $3.3 billion that was raised for these groups for the prior eight years combined.

In a report published in The Conversation, published in October 2020, Kim Williams-Pulfer and Una Osilli, two researchers at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy noted that increased giving was being shown by: increased crowdfunding to the families of victims of overt racism, direct support for grassroots organizations, scholarships and endowments to historically black institutions of higher learning, and giving by black philanthropists. 

Experts have noted a significant increase in direct crowdfunding to the families of victims of overt racism, direct support to grassroots organizations

But in a report, Candid also noted that the pace of giving had begun to slow by August 2020, with $1.6 billion for that month, down from $2.5 billion in June. 

The level of charitable giving overall in 2021 is uncertain, with most experts expecting philanthropy to be based on the strength of economic strength. A lot of giving specifically to black nonprofits committed to social justice in 2020 reflected the feeling of outrage against police brutality and racism against African-American citizens.

Instances of institutionalized racism likely will continue to happen throughout 2021. Heads of social justice organizations have to continue to find ways to drive corporations, small businesses, government leaders, and individuals to use their abilities to give to make a difference. 

The level of outrage will rise and subside. The leaders of African-American and social justice organizations will need to find ways to institutionalize consistent levels of giving regardless of the ebbs and flows of the overall society’s interest in alleviating injustice.

It’s the labor of non-profit organizations in Cleveland Ohio to not let the spark die down, a lot of people are struggling due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Now more than ever, we ought to achieve a wider reach, spread our message in order to be able to help minorities.