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Report Identifies More Than $20 Billion in Philanthropic Donations For COVID-19 Causes

  • More than $20 billion was awarded to COVID-19 causes in 2020
  • Bulk of funding was provided by corporations, while community foundations gave out the greatest number of awards
  • Report notes previous research highlighting precarious position many nonprofits find themselves in due to the pandemic

Summary by Dirk Langeveld

More than $20 billion was awarded to entities addressing issues related to COVID-19 in 2020, according to a recent report by the nonprofit data company Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

“Philanthropy and COVID-19 in 2020: Measuring One Year of Giving” identified $20.2 billion in COVID-19 related philanthropy. Corporations accounted for only 5 percent of all gifts, but awarded $9.42 billion, or 44 percent of this total. Conversely, community foundations represented the bulk of the awards at 54 percent but awarded smaller grants, with foundations’ philanthropic giving totaling just under $543,000 with a median award of $10,000.

High net worth individuals donated $5.8 billion to these causes, or 27 percent of all funding. This outsized share was driven primarily by giving from Mackenzie Scott, who has signed the Giving Pledge and promised to give away at least half of the $35 billion she received after divorcing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Scott donated $4 billion in COVID-19 aid.

Human services and health organizations accounted for more than half of the funds awarded, while education represented 20 percent. Thirty-five percent of the money went to communities of color. The report noted that 63 percent of the funds went to “unknown” recipients, with the donor either naming multiple recipients without specifying how much each received or announcing the funding but not who would receive it.

The report also issued recommendations for how corporations and other companies can improve the effectiveness of philanthropic giving. These included making greater donations, providing unrestricted or flexible grants, providing funds for operational and administrative support, and directing funds to communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The report also noted its previous research on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the nonprofit sector, saying that 930,000 nonprofit jobs have been lost since the start of the pandemic. Thirty-seven percent of these positions were in arts and entertainment, while 15 percent were in education.

Candid found that the median nonprofit organization has enough capital to endure a short recession but not a long one, and ran 20 scenarios to see how well nonprofits might fare in the future. The organization suggested that 4 percent of the nation’s nonprofits, or 12,042 entities, are likely to close without any further crisis. The share increases to 11 percent (34,472 organizations) in a “realistic” crisis scenario and 38 percent (119,517 organizations) in a worst case scenario.

A follow-up state-by-state analysis predicts that 144 nonprofits in Connecticut are likely to close without any further crisis. The number increases to 430 in a realistic scenario, with another 286 unable to survive a worst case scenario.

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