Giving within the Pandemic: Extra Than Half of People Have Discovered Methods to Assist These Hit by Covid-19 Hardship

By Tessa Skidmore, IUPUI

The Research Brief is a brief presentation of interesting academic work.

The big idea

Despite a global health crisis and economic recession, my colleagues at the Women’s Philanthropy Institute and I found more than half of all US households – 56% – expressed some form of generosity in the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We also found that 48% of US households had operated generous forms of the pandemic. This includes ordering food stalls with the intent of supporting local restaurants and their employees, and paying individuals or businesses for services such as haircuts and grooming that they were unable to provide due to strict social distancing requirements.

A significant but smaller proportion of all households participated in more conventional forms of donation. Almost a third of households (32%) donated directly to non-profit organizations, supported others through crowdfunding, and provided benefits in kind – from canned beans to homemade masks – to those in need. This percentage is slightly higher than the percentage (29%) that donated to disaster relief throughout 2018, the last year for which data are available.

We also examined how routine donation by U.S. households to charity – that is, donations they would have expected without the pandemic – changed in the spring of 2020. We found that the size of this donation, whether through traditional charitable giving or donating to things like giving to individuals or businesses through crowdfunding campaigns and in kind, remained largely unchanged.

These results are based on responses to questions about generosity in response to COVID-19 that we added to a survey that looked at how families make decisions about donating to charity. A national sample of 3,405 households completed the online survey in mid-May 2020.

Why it matters

While research into generosity in response to past disasters and economic recessions could usually help experts predict how Americans would behave today, the combination of a health crisis and severe economic downturn cannot be compared to any other event in recent history .

Our results are in line with other research that shows that the generosity of Americans, especially those younger and from color communities, goes well beyond donating money. Younger people were more likely than older Americans to have less conventional donation patterns, such as trying to shop locally or buy products from socially or environmentally responsible companies.

We also see the fact that in the first few months of the pandemic, people tended to give away no less money than positive signs. It suggests that for many households, giving to charity is a habit. If so, it can be expected that Americans who are used to supporting charity will continue to do so despite the difficult circumstances.

What’s next

In order to develop a fuller understanding of US generosity during the COVID-19 pandemic, my colleagues and I plan to include in future surveys that we plan to conduct at different times with a wide variety of people, from very wealthy major donors to people who asking the same questions that mostly donate by throwing in a few dollars here and there through crowdfunding campaigns.

These forms of generosity have been around for a long time, but the pandemic may have made them more visible. We plan to watch how these behaviors develop.The conversation

Tessa Skidmore, visiting scholar, Women’s Philanthropy Institute, IUPUI

This article is republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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