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Many Americans Could Give Less to Charity Next Year: Survey

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Thirty-five percent of Americans say they expect to donate less money to charitable causes in the coming year, or none at all, according to a recent survey by Eagle Hill Consulting.

The findings do not apply across all demographic groups, the survey showed, as younger donors plan to increase their giving in 2021. The causes American donors support also vary by age.

Eagle Hill Consulting said nonprofit organizations face a complex new landscape that may force them to alter management strategies in order to navigate the future.

“As charitable organizations approach Giving Tuesday [Dec. 1] and plan for 2021 during a tough economic climate, it will be increasingly important for nonprofit teams to dig deep into the preferences and plans of their donor and volunteer base, Melissa Jezior, president and chief executive officer of woman-owned Eagle Hill Consulting, said in a statement. 

Jezior said nonprofits may need to re-calibrate both whom they ask for support and how they do that so their approach is more personalized and responsive to the specific preferences and values of their stakeholders.

It will also be important for them to leverage data and technology in new ways, she said, but noted that this will be challenging as layoffs in the wake of the pandemic and economic crisis have depleted staffing.

Ipsos conducted the survey in October among 1,005 respondents across the U.S.

More Findings

The survey found that 27% of younger Americans, ages 18 to 34, plan to give more money to charitable causes, and 33% plan to give at the same level. In contrast, only 9% of Americans 55 and older plan to increase their future giving.  

These are the top charitable causes Americans in the survey plan to support: 

  • Social services – 34%
  • Education – 25%
  • Religious organizations – 22%
  • Health – 21%
  • COVID-19 – 20%
  • Environment/climate change – 20%
  • Racial justice –19% 

The causes for support vary by age. Thirty-two percent of younger Americans plan to donate to social services, 31% to education and 30% to racial justice causes. 

Thirty-seven percent of older Americans also plan to support social services, but 31% plan to give to religious causes and 22% to medical research. 

In another blow to the nonprofit sector, volunteerism will also take a hit next year, the survey found.

Fifty-two percent of respondents do not plan to volunteer or will volunteer less in the coming year. But again, age differences come into play.

Thirty-one percent of younger survey participants plan to volunteer more time next year than they did this year, which compares with 14% for those aged 55 and older who will give more of their time. 

According to the survey people with children in their household typically volunteer substantially more than those who do not have children — 60% versus 36%. 

A likely reason for the projected decline in volunteer activity is that 44% of those surveyed do not feel safe volunteering in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. 


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