Whatever other havoc the pandemic has caused, it hasn’t closed the wallets of charitably inclined individuals in the U.S.
Charitable giving grew by 7.6% during the first nine months of this year, compared with the same period in 2019, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s third quarter report, which is administered by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Foundation for Philanthropy in collaboration with GivingTuesday.
Giving in the second and third quarters offset a 6% year-over-year decline in the first quarter.
Year-to-date donations through Sept. 30 represented almost 70% of 2019’s total giving, which compared with about 65% for the same period last year.
“What we’re seeing is that people remain very generous and continue to support their neighbors, communities and charitable causes when they face crises and hard times,” Jon Biedermann, chair of the FEP and president and chief executive of The Biedermann Group, said in a statement.
“Some in the sector were worried that the rebound in giving in the second quarter would be short-lived, as donors suffered prolonged challenges from the pandemic,” Biedermann explained. “While the donors giving less than $250 in the third quarter were not as far ahead as the second quarter, the public remains resolute in their giving.”
Biedermann noted that people giving $1,000 or more increased in the third quarter. He said this was critical because those donors make up a majority of the donations and were lagging behind in the first half of the year.
The overall number of donors, though, grew at a slower pace in the third quarter, 6% versus 7.2% in the second quarter. The increase in donors was led by an increase in the number of new donors, up 11.7% year over year.
The only area of significant decline was in new repeat donors — those who gave to charity for the first time in 2019 but so far this year have not given again to the same charity — down by 10.3%.
Biedermann surmised that many of last year’s new donors switched their giving to pandemic relief organizations this year, which may account for the drop in new repeat donors and the increase in the number of new donors.
The Fundraising Effectiveness Project provides the publicly available Growth in Giving Database of actual donations to nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada.