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  • Writer's pictureLipton Strategies

Philanthropy Insights: How Donors React to COVID-19

Updated: May 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has turned our world upside down. As we begin the slow process of reopening, nonprofits across the country have been forced to find new and creative ways to fundraise and continue their mission-critical work.

While we learn to work within this new normal, it’s important to take note of both donor intentions and how nonprofits are responding to the pandemic. Over the past few months a number of surveys have been conducted to help us better understand donor reactions and how organizations are pivoting their development and engagement efforts. One survey of note was conducted by Fidelity Charitable. We have distilled some of the most important data here to help your organization plan your development efforts.

DONOR INTENTIONS: Steady Giving + Decrease Volunteering

Let's begin by taking a general look at how donors are reacting to the current pandemic and crisis. Though no two donors are the same, this snapshot into the overall philanthropic landscape across the United States shows that the vast majority of donors (79%) plan to maintain or increase the amount they donate to nonprofit organizations this year. Only 9% of donors said they plan to donate less.

At the same time nearly half of recent nonprofit volunteers believe they will volunteer fewer hours or stop altogether because of the pandemic. The vast majority of them said that their volunteer time would decrease or stop, citing concerns about an organization not able to physically open due to COVID-19 or the need to socially distance.

HOW WE GIVE: Donor Support for COVID-19 Relief

A plurality of donors stated that they plan to continue giving primarily to the nonprofits they typically support, expressing concern about how they will be affected by COVID-19. When asked specifically about how they plan to spend in response to COVID-19, donors were split between addressing the health impacts and economic impacts, with a majority of donors focused on the domestic response.

WHO GIVES: Increased Support Among Millennials

One surprising find is the source of these additional contributions, which tend to trend younger. Fidelity Charitable reported that 46% of Millennials said they plan to increase their donations compared to only 14% of Baby Boomers. Younger generations are also more likely to feel confident about how they direct their support.

It’s also important to note that nearly a third of donors (32%) felt they did not yet have the necessary information to effectively direct their support, providing an opportunity for organizations to reshape their case for support to effectively engage donors at this critical moment.


Is your organization unsure about how to whether this crisis? Does your organization have a long-range development plan? Now is the perfect time to redouble your strategic planning efforts, embrace innovation, and think creatively about new ways to grow and diversify your organization's revenue.

Let us help you succeed! Contact our team today to set up a free consultation at

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