Record-Breaking COVID-19 Philanthropy Topped Giving for Other Disasters but Overlooked Those Most Affected by Pandemic
New report finds that proportionately little of the $11.9 billion in funding was explicitly designated for communities of color
Communications and Outreach Manager
Director of Marketing and Communications
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Washington, DC, and New York, NY—August 26, 2020. A new report by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) and Candid finds that during the first half of 2020, the $11.9 billion given in response to the COVID-19 pandemic far exceeded philanthropy for previous disasters. The report, Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the First Half of 2020, reveals that foundations and individual donors stepped up to meet immediate needs and services arising from the pandemic. Only 5 percent of funding by foundations and public charities to specified recipients, however, was explicitly directed for persons and communities of color, which have been hit hard by the virus.
COVID-19 philanthropy surpassed other disaster giving
Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the First Half of 2020 finds that total philanthropic funding awarded for COVID-19-related efforts during the first six months of 2020 dwarfed grants awarded for other recent disasters. COVID-19 funding was more than 16 times funding for Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Dorian and the Australian bushfires—combined.
Other findings include:
- Corporate giving accounted for nearly two-thirds of philanthropic funding. The nearly $7.9 billion in corporate giving was led by Google, which gave more than $1.2 billion in both cash and in-kind support.
- Among independent foundations, the top funders included The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Open Society Foundations.
- High-net-worth individuals also contributed significant amounts, including a $1 billion commitment by Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey.
- Individual donors increased their giving through donor-advised funds such as those managed by Fidelity Charitable and Schwab Charitable.
“The data confirms that philanthropy mobilized quickly and responded generously as the COVID-19 pandemic spread across the globe,” said Grace Sato, director of research at Candid. “Although not a complete picture of the global philanthropic response, this report offers some insight into funding thus far and can help inform foundations and private donors in their future pandemic-related giving.”
Report highlights funding gaps
The report also sheds light on troubling trends, including:
- Despite many foundations’ commitment to providing flexible support for grantees, few awards in the data set were specifically identified as general support.
- Only 5 percent of foundation and public charity funding that specified recipients was designated for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), despite these populations being disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
- $476.4 million from foundations and public charities went to organizations focused on health: 80 percent of this went to public health organizations whereas less than 2 percent was directed to mental health organizations.
“We have seen incredible generosity since the outbreak of the pandemic,” said Regine A. Webster, vice president of CDP. “Yet we in the philanthropic community must push ourselves to give more and give smarter. The economic, social, and health impacts of the pandemic will outpace every donated dollar unless we support the most vulnerable among us.”
Ways to maximize philanthropic impact
As the pandemic continues, CDP recommends funders take these steps to support the most vulnerable populations and address immediate and long-term needs:
- Support local groups with a focus on communities of color, older adults, disabled persons, and other vulnerable populations.
- Provide unrestricted support to give current grantees flexibility to use funding where it is needed most.
- Allow current grantees to shift restricted grants to general operating support.
- Give additional grants for grantees’ evolving needs.
- Give to existing funds that can quickly distribute grants to local organizations.
- Partner with other funders.
- Fund land trusts to help maintain affordable housing.
Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the First Half of 2020 analyzes data from publicly available announcements and direct reporting of pledges, commitments, and grants. It is the first of two reports that will examine the latest COVID-19-related philanthropic data to identify top funders, issue areas, recipients, and other giving trends. The full brief is available at doi.org/10/gg72df.
Every year, millions of nonprofits spend trillions of dollars around the world. Candid finds out where that money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Through research, collaboration, and training, Candid connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it. Candid’s data tools on nonprofits, foundations, and grants are the most comprehensive in the world. Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces to become Candid, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Find out more at candid.org and on Twitter @CandidDotOrg.
About the Center for Disaster Philanthropy
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy leverages the power of philanthropy to mobilize a full range of resources that strengthen the ability of communities to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur. It manages domestic and international disaster funds on behalf of corporations, foundations and individuals through targeted, holistic and localized grantmaking. CDP has disbursed almost $15 million to more than 100 organizations in the U.S. and abroad through its various funds. Find out more at disasterphilanthropy.org and on Twitter @funds4disaster.