At the same time as the Covid-19 crisis has increased the need for direct services from charities, it has depressed the dollar amounts of donations they are likely to receive. This pandemic reversal was described by Deacon Steve Schumer, President and CEO of Buffalo Catholic Charities, in an interview with The Buffalo News last May. Local fundraising for his agency was significantly lower than the 2019 figures last spring, he said, but “when the rest of the economy plunges, this is the time when entities like Catholic Charities must moving forward”.
In 2019, Americans donated nearly $ 450 billion to charities—The second highest annual amount in US history. But a few months later, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on families and the economy, the impact of Covid-19 was becoming clear. Gallup found that a 21st century low of 73 percent of American adults said they donated to religious and other charities in 2020, beating the poll’s previous low of 79% during the Great Recession of 2009.
According to Gallup, 30 percent of Americans in April reported direct financial harm as a result of the crisis, questioning their ability to continue giving this year. The performing arts, culture and health care industries reported the largest declines in donor support, while social and human services were more likely to report an increase in giving.
In more positive news, Gallup also found that those arguably best placed to donate to charities, households in the upper income brackets, plan to give more in 2020.
As has been the case in recent years, households affiliated with a religion are more likely to make charitable donations, but the parish’s fundraising, hampered by closed churches and telemass celebrations, took a hit. By November, 64 percent of US parishes reported that they received a loan from the Federal Paycheck Protection Program to meet payroll shortfalls caused by declining donations.