How Are Philanthropists Responding to COVID-19?

May 15, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has understandably shifted philanthropists’ mindsets. Senior Wealth Planner Kerri Mast analyzes recent survey results on this topic.

COVID-19’s impact has been felt far and wide as communities, businesses and governments have implemented major changes that affect everyday life. Many people are living with meaningful uncertainty regarding what comes next. Nonprofit organizations are not exempt from this uncertainty and may be concerned about their own viability in the face of declining asset values due to market volatility and reduced fundraising as donors are distracted or less able to give and volunteer. A recent Fidelity Charitable survey gives insight into how philanthropists are thinking about their support in the current environment.

Donor Attitudes. Not surprisingly, donors expressed concern about COVID-19, with more than two-thirds saying they are very worried or somewhat concerned about the virus. Respondents cited health concerns, economic concerns or both, with a mere 4% of people saying they are not worried about either one. Concern about COVID-19 could have an impact on financial and volunteer support of nonprofits.

Impact on Financial Support. Notwithstanding concern about the virus, many donors anticipate sustaining or increasing their charitable giving. More than 75% of those surveyed anticipate donating as much or more than they donated last year. Those who said they would give more cited the pressing community need and a desire to be helpful. They also recognize the importance of funding the organizations they currently support, as well as those directly helping with the coronavirus. Only 9% of those surveyed said they would donate less, citing economic fears and uncertainty over their own income and the market.

In terms of how donors will support nonprofits, most (55%) anticipate providing continued support to the nonprofits they have supported in the past. Twenty-four percent of donors anticipate shifting their giving to support nonprofits responding to the impacts of COVID-19. These donors are interested in both the health and economic impacts on a domestic level and, to a lesser extent, international level. Most donors feel like they have the information they need to understand how to best direct their financial support, while one-third feel like they don’t have that information. To the extent there is uncertainty, older generations report feeling unsure of how to direct their donations. There might be an opportunity for nonprofit organizations to ensure they provide information about their work in a concise and comprehensible way.

The reported impact on financial support is positive. Most donors said they would give at least as much as last year. In recognition that organizations will be affected in some way by COVID-19, donors are supporting existing organizations. Many donors also anticipate supporting frontline organizations that are addressing health and economic impacts.

Impact on Volunteer Support. While the reported impact to financial support is positive, the impact on volunteer support is less so. Less than half of those surveyed anticipate sustaining or increasing their volunteer time. Almost half of those surveyed expect to decrease – or stop altogether – their volunteer time in the coming months, citing organization closures, a desire not to be close to other people and their own higher risk status, due to age or other underlying health conditions. The majority of respondents in the silent and baby boomer generations, both with members likely to have higher risk status, expect to decrease their volunteer hours. Interestingly, nearly one-third of millennials expect to increase their volunteer time. Organizations that rely on volunteer support as a means to deliver their services should consider what steps they might take to protect their volunteers and help them feel safe, such as additional sanitation, providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and requiring physical distancing.

Nonprofit Perspectives. The survey also asked nonprofit professionals about the current impact of COVID-19 on different aspects of their business. Overwhelmingly, nonprofits reported that all aspects of their business – fundraising/development, volunteer services and programs and delivery of programs and services – have been significantly or somewhat impacted by COVID-19. Only a few – 5% or less – reported business as usual.

While many nonprofits are facing meaningful impacts to their business, and uncertainty regarding the future is likely to continue for some time, philanthropists are aware of these challenges and have indicated a willingness to continue their support. The full report, including methodology, can be found on Fidelity Charitable’s website at “COVID-19 and Philanthropy: How Giving Behaviors are Shifting Amid Pandemic.” Fidelity Charitable is Brown Brothers Harriman’s (BBH) donor-advised fund partner, with many of our clients having Fidelity Charitable accounts managed at BBH.

Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. (“BBH”) may be used as a generic term to reference the company as a whole and/or its various subsidiaries generally.  This material and any products or services may be issued or provided in multiple jurisdictions by duly authorized and regulated subsidiaries. This material is for general information and reference purposes only and does not constitute legal, tax or investment advice and is not intended as an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy securities, services or investment products. Any reference to tax matters is not intended to be used, and may not be used, for purposes of avoiding penalties under the U.S. Internal Revenue Code, or other applicable tax regimes, or for promotion, marketing or recommendation to third parties. All information has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy is not guaranteed, and reliance should not be placed on the information presented.  This material may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted, or any of the content disclosed to third parties, without the permission of BBH. All trademarks and service marks included are the property of BBH or their respective owners. © Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. 2020. All rights reserved.  PB-03635-2020-05-14

This browser is not fully supported by our public website and may not display or function as expected for this reason. Please note, the Infuse Portal and BBH client applications fully support the IE 11 browser.

Important Information for Non-U.S. Residents

You are required to read the following important information, which, in conjunction with the Terms and Conditions, governs your use of this website. Your use of this website and its contents constitute your acceptance of this information and those Terms and Conditions. If you do not agree with this information and the Terms and Conditions, you should immediately cease use of this website. The contents of this website have not been prepared for the benefit of investors outside of the United States. This website is not intended as a solicitation of the purchase or sale of any security or other financial instrument or any investment management services for any investor who resides in a jurisdiction other than the United States1. As a general matter, Brown Brothers Harriman & Co. and its subsidiaries (“BBH”) is not licensed or registered to solicit prospective investors and offer investment advisory services in jurisdictions outside of the United States. The information on this website is not intended to be distributed to, directed at or used by any person or entity in any jurisdiction or country where such distribution or use would be contrary to law or regulation. Persons in respect of whom such prohibitions apply must not access the website.  Under certain circumstances, BBH may provide services to investors located outside of the United States in accordance with applicable law. The conditions under which such services may be provided will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis by BBH. BBH will only accept investors from such jurisdictions or countries where it has made a determination that such an arrangement or relationship is permissible under the laws of that jurisdiction or country. The existence of this website is not intended to be a substitute for the type of analysis described above and is not intended as a solicitation of or recommendation to any prospective investor, including those located outside of the United States. Certain BBH products or services may not be available in certain jurisdictions. By choosing to access this website from any location other than the United States, you accept full responsibility for compliance with all local laws. The website contains content that has been obtained from sources that BBH believes to be reliable as of the date presented; however, BBH cannot guarantee the accuracy of such content, assure its completeness, or warrant that such information will not be changed. The content contained herein is current as of the date of issuance and is subject to change without notice. The website’s content does not constitute investment advice and should not be used as the basis for any investment decision. There is no guarantee that any investment objectives, expectations, targets described in this website or the  performance or profitability of any investment will be achieved. You understand that investing in securities and other financial instruments involves risks that may affect the value of the securities and may result in losses, including the potential loss of the principal invested, and you assume and are able to bear all such risks.  In no event shall BBH or any other affiliated party be liable for any direct, incidental, special, consequential, indirect, lost profits, loss of business or data, or punitive damages arising out of your use of this website. By clicking accept, you confirm that you accept  to the above Important Information along with Terms and Conditions.

 
1BBH sponsors UCITS Funds registered in Luxembourg, in certain jurisdictions. For information on those funds, please see bbhluxembourgfunds.com


captcha image

Type in the word seen on the picture

I am a current investor in another jurisdiction