Year-end giving in 2020


Year-end giving in a time of multiple crises

We’re living in unprecedented times: from the global COVID-19 pandemic, to a historic presidential election and a renewed national conversation about racial justice and equity. 2020 has left many of us overwhelmed and it has challenged donors to think deeply about how they can create the most impact through their charitable giving. Through our work at Goodnation, we’ve learned a lot about the deep-rooted issues our communities face, locally and globally, and have witnessed some incredible stories of how philanthropy can bring bold solutions to the challenges we face.

The state of nonprofits today

In many communities, nonprofits have been the leading frontline responders to the pandemic and its widespread impacts, from hunger to emergency housing to services for children. Yet many nonprofits are suffering from the impact of the pandemic themselves. According to a recent survey by CCS Fundraising, 53% of nonprofit respondents reported a fundraising decline for the year due to COVID-19 and 26% of respondents have had to make either modest or significant staff reductions. 

As thousands of food banks and community service providers across the country have seen increased demand for their services, we’ve seen examples of incredible philanthropic responses by donors who have stepped up and gone beyond their usual giving level to help them meet their fundraising needs. For example, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in the first half of 2020 the Houston Food Bank raised 468% more than in the same time period in 2019, enabling them to provide additional fresh produce, meat, nonperishables and hot meals to meet the tremendous increase in need. Similarly, in Washington, DC, where the level of food insecurity is projected to rise by up to 60% this year, The Capital Area Food Bank has so far raised 151% of last year's total. 

On the other hand, nonprofits that are not considered part of the frontline crisis response and that have had to suspend or limit their services due to the pandemic - museums and arts organizations in particular - have seen major decreases in donor support. The Houston Museum of Fine Arts raised 46% less in the first half of 2020 than it did in the same time period in 2019; and the Smithsonian Institution, one of the country’s most notable organizations, has seen a 22% decline in giving.

As we see, the need continues across the nonprofit sector whether an organization is responding directly to critical needs or striving to sustain their work until they can resume their programming in full.

According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Making an impact

So, where can you, as a donor, make the greatest impact this giving season? Here are some questions to consider to help guide your decision-making process.

  • What are the things I care about the most and want to make sure can continue on? As shown above, theater and art museums have seen a decline in funding, resulting in barriers to program continuation. What other cause areas do you care about that may be facing fundraising challenges this year?
  • What are the less visible needs that have been fueled by the pandemic? For example, we’ve seen shelter in place orders have an adverse effect on those living in conditions of violence at home. Though they may not be a visible face of the pandemic, it’s critical they receive support both now and when they’re able to safely escape their abuser when the pandemic subsides.
  • How can I be part of the strategic rebuilding phase of this philanthropic movement? The movements for economic justice, civic engagement and government accountability are a few areas where your support can help strengthen communities moving forward.

Disaster Life Cycle

Another important piece to keep in mind is that by funding throughout the disaster lifecycle, not just in the immediate response stage, you can maximize your impact and help mitigate the impact over the long term.  For every gift you have made to help meet critical emergency needs, consider what more will be needed in 6 months and then a year from now to sustain the organization and enable them to strategically recover and build resilience for the future. 

From Center for Disaster Philanthropy

2020 year-end giving tips

2020 is an unprecedented year, which warrants an unprecedented philanthropic response. Many donors, big and small, have taken bold action this year to step up and help meet the needs in our communities. Here are some tips for for creating the most impact through your giving this year: 

  • Give More: This may sound like a bold directive, but it is the single best way to ensure the communities you care about are supported during this unprecedented time and that the organizations you love can sustain their work and build resilience for the future. If you work with a financial advisor, consider engaging them in a conversation about maximizing your giving this year. It’s an excellent time to review your strategy to make certain you are taking advantage of all applicable tax incentives and other special opportunities made available just for this year under the CARES Act. You may have also realized savings from cancelled travel or other saved discretionary income this year, which could be used to grow your giving now when it is needed most.
  • Give Now: The pandemic is not slowing down and most nonprofits can’t afford to wait until December 31 to see if donations come in. A hungry family needs their next meal today; an underserved student needs access to wifi and a device for remote learning today; and the list goes on. If you haven’t already, make your annual donations today to let the nonprofits working tirelessly on the frontlines know that they can rely on your partnership.
  • Give Flexible Support: One of the most impactful ways donors can optimize their support is to give non-restricted general operating funds to the organizations they support. Nonprofits have had to pivot quickly and often this year to account for the evolving crisis, and general operating support enables them to fund the work that is needed now without launching a cumbersome new fundraising campaign. When making your gifts this year, make sure to indicate the organization should use it where it is needed most.

Complete your year-end gifts

Schedule a free call with Emily Ball, our Philanthropy Advisor, or log on or sign up for the Goodnation platform. On the platform you can filter through the hundreds of vetted nonprofits we offer to find what groups are right for you before completing your gifts on the platform using your preferred payment method. 

Each nonprofit is rated using the unique Goodnation Score, which we’ve built as a quantitative scoring system that takes into account the investments of the most rigorous professional foundations while also assessing the current financial health and governance of the charity. Thanks to how we source organizations, we feel confident that all of those on Goodnation are smart giving opportunities, but the score allows us to take a deeper look for added assurance.

Photo credit: Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

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