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Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

Half of Donors Say They’ll Give More Carefully This Year: Poll

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Fifty-three percent of charitably minded Americans in a new poll said they would maintain their giving this year, but would do so more carefully than before the coronavirus outbreak.

However, 20% of respondents said they would stop giving until the economy was back up and running.

Dunham+Company sponsored the poll, which was conducted by Campbell Rinker from April 17 to April 21 — one month after the American economy shut down — among 630 adults who had made charitable gifts of at least $20 in 2019. Participants’ giving last year ranged from $20 to $66,500.

Twenty-eight percent of poll participants said they would keep giving regardless of the pandemic.

The poll results showed that this sentiment was especially strong among donors who said they attended religious services at least weekly — 40%, compared with 19% of those who did not frequent religious services.

In addition, 33% of self-described conservative respondents but only 21% of liberal ones expected to maintain their giving.

Two-thirds of boomers said they would keep giving the same amount to charity this year, while only 40% of millennials said they would do so, and 31% of these said they would reduce their giving.

“After one month of shutdown, 10% of donors overall expect to give less because of either the pandemic or the economy in general, which is a direct result of the pandemic,” Dunham+Company’s chief executive, Rick Dunham, wrote in the report. “It’s instructive, however, that this percentage is significantly lower for boomers and older donors at just 6%, which are key giving demographics.”

The study uncovered a large well of anxiety among donor households because of the pandemic. One in four donor families said they were finding it very or extremely challenging to meet their financial obligations.

Forty-six percent of families making $25,000 annually or less reported that they were under financial duress, compared with only 13% of households making $75,000 or more. In addition, 34% of minority respondents said they were struggling.

In contrast, 53% of donors said they were not facing a challenging financial situation, with 63% percent of those making more than $75,000 per year and 72% of boomers and older reporting that they were doing well.

Sixty percent of donors polled opined that the work of American charities was good or excellent, up from 48% in August 2018. The report said this helped explain why 46% were confident their giving would return to normal when the economy recovers.

Another contributing factor, it said, may be recent growth in household income.

Here’s what donors said their giving would look like for favored charities during the coming year:

  • Somewhat more to places of worship
  • Somewhat less to educational institutions and programs
  • Slightly less to faith-based charities and ministries, excluding places of worship
  • A bit more to health and medical nonprofits that work within the U.S.
  • Less to arts and culture.

— Check out Fidelity Charitable Donors Step Up Funding for COVID-19 Relief on ThinkAdvisor.


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