Every(Re-)Action | Nonprofits Welcome Billions in Pandemic Giving but Wonder if Support will Last: Chronicle of Philanthropy

March 15, 2021 | Grace Duginski
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The Chronicle of Philanthropy in early March published an analysis of a new report from Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy on recent increases in pandemic- and racial justice-driven funding to nonprofits. Nonprofits now wonder how those increases in funding will change over the remainder of 2021.

The total for increased crisis-driven funding came to $20.2 billion, which constitutes “more than double the amount given to the previous top 10 disasters combined, according to preliminary estimates.” In a breakdown of the sources of these COVID grants, the Chronicle reported that the biggest contributors were corporations and corporate foundations, who were responsible for over $9 billion of those dollars. Next in line, giving nearly $6 billion each, came private foundations and high-net-worth individuals. The latter category consisted almost entirely of funds from one person: Mackenzie Scott, who alone contributed $4 billion.

Where the funds were directed also reflects the nature of 2020’s crises. The Chronicle reports that “human-service organizations received the largest share of money at 28 percent, followed by health (26 percent) and education (20 percent).” Among those groups who collected large gifts from individual donors was EveryAction client Feeding America, who received $100 million from Jeff Bezos to meet the rise in unemployment and food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and assist the “more than 42 million people [who] may face hunger because of coronavirus.”

Questions remain about how foundations will adjust their processes in the future. The Chronicle admits, “early signs indicate that many foundations are likely to fall back to their old ways as the pandemic wanes” – meaning new, pandemic-induced flexibility in shifting dollars to general operations, simplified reporting requirements, and other functions of the grantor-grantee relationship may not be an option in the future.

For nonprofits who received a new wave of crisis funding from individual donors, what happens now? Stewardship for first-year retention.

If your organization saw an influx of new support in 2020, you’ll need to grow your relationships with this new wave of crisis donors in order to earn that all-important second gift and retain them in their first year. Information such as where donors had their first point of contact with your organization, which elements of your work interest them most, and what inspired them to make a gift can help you to keep them engaged with your organization – and on track to make a second gift – after their initial point of interaction.