Donors across the U.S. increased their charitable giving during the first four months of the year as the eruption of the coronavirus pandemic disrupted medical systems and caused unprecedented unemployment, Fidelity Charitable reported Friday.
At the same time, donors’ support of nonprofits overall held steady at normal levels.
The analysis examined the grantmaking activity of some 140,000 Fidelity Charitable giving accounts from Jan. 1 to April 30, in comparison with the same time period in 2019.
Grant volumes recommended by donors in every region increased by 28% or more. In the first four months of the year, donors nationwide recommended 544,000 grants totaling $2.4 billion, up 16% from the same time period in 2019, despite a stock market collapse in March and widespread fears of an economic recession.
Giving to the human services sector, which includes organizations that address food and shelter insecurity, skyrocketed in the first four months of 2020, making it the most popular charitable sector in 21 states and the District of Columbia, compared with only seven states last year.
Nationally, grants to free food programs from more than 18,000 giving accounts totaled nearly $75 million in the January-to-April period, up from some $10 million during the same period in 2019.
But even as grant dollars to free food programs increased by 667% nationwide, donors sustained or increased support for all nonprofit sectors.
The single exception was the education sector. Fidelity Charitable suggested that the decrease may have been the result of donors in the Northeast reallocating their support to human services organizations as they weathered widespread outbreaks of COVID-19.