Despite pandemic, Americans donated a record sum to charity in 2020

Despite the immense health and economic challenges the world faced in 2020, the latest annual report from the Giving USA Foundation finds that Americans did not cease supporting their communities and fellow citizens. According to the report, Americans donated a record $471 billion to charity in 2020, a 3.8 percent increase from 2019. These increases were particularly noticeable for organizations that offer social services, support people in need, and work to protect civil rights. 

There are a few different reasons experts believe this increase took place. The first is that the stock market continued to perform well at the end of 2020, giving many people the opportunity to donate even while jobs lagged. 

The second reason is that nonprofits and charities significantly stepped up their fundraising efforts in response to the pandemic. The unprecedented impact on public health urged these organizations to work even harder to support the communities they serve. Foundation giving rose 15.6 percent and many people reached out to donate to their local organizations during the time of immense need. Unfortunately, corporate philanthropy actually fell during 2020 by 7.3 percent. 

Lastly, the pandemic and racial justice movements of 2020 highlighted some previously underfunded areas for charitable giving. Spurred by the murder of George Floyd and inadequate public health resources, many people stepped up to donate to new organizations for the first time. Human services donations grew 8.4 percent and public-society benefit organizations saw a 14.3 percent in giving. 

Some large-scale donors stepped up their philanthropic efforts during the pandemic, but one report found that everyday Americans were the most mobilized in increasing their giving. In fact, donations under $250 grew more than large donations. 

More than half of Americans stepped up to donate their time or money to those in need in 2020. Despite the most challenging period of time in recent memory for many, people continued to go out of their way to support local businesses, give to those in need, and pursue philanthropic projects. After the extremely difficult year we had, it is inspiring to know that human kindness continued to thrive. 

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