Charitable Giving Trends 2020: What Nonprofits Should Take Away from the Past Year


If you want to make a greater impact moving forward, it’s worth checking out charitable giving trends 2020. Understanding donors’ motivations and behaviors over the last year can provide you with valuable insight that serves your nonprofit in the long run!

We can all agree that 2020 was… well, something. The events of this past year certainly shaped every aspect of our lives in ways we never saw coming. And the charitable giving trends 2020 introduced are no different.

Generous donors have always been quick to fund organizations that assist with natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and social movements. But 2020 brought with it a lot of changes in terms of how people give back, with some organizations seeing a drop in donations and others a massive increase.

By looking back at this past year and analyzing what we’ve learned, the charitable giving trends 2020 demonstrated can help nonprofits make well-informed decisions moving forward.

One thing is for sure—the charitable giving trends of 2020 have shown that Americans and people around the world are passionate about helping others. 

Let’s look at some charitable giving statistics to view the bigger picture…

Which Age Groups Donated the Most?

When you look at what charitable giving trends 2020 left in its wake and how those trends could affect your nonprofit organization, it’s important to look at the ages of those giving. 

What’s interesting here is that although millennials are big on giving in general, a couple other generations really stepped it up in 2020. 

According to Classy’s most recent report, Why America Gives 2020, the generational breakdown of those who donated to pandemic-related organizations looks like this:

Taking that a step further, there were definitely generational differences in terms of what types of causes received those donations.

For example, boomers and members of the Silent Generation tended to put a priority on disaster relief, while millennials found education to be most important. Gen X and Gen Z, as well as millennials, favored social justice giving. 

Health was, of course, an overarching reason for charitable giving in 2020, and political giving was also high on the list.

What Percentage of People Participated in Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is the world’s largest generosity movement, so it makes sense to look at how it panned out in 2020 compared to past years. 

This year, it fell on December 1, 2020, and in that one day, donors brought in $2.47 billion! That is more than what every philanthropic foundation (except one) gave during the whole year of 2019.

When we compare that to last year’s Giving Tuesday, we can see that 2020 saw a 25% increase over last year with 2019 yielding $1.97 billion, which has been the most impressive year of giving since its inception in 2012.

It’s also estimated by Giving Tuesday Data Commons that 29% more people participated in Giving Tuesday 2020 than in 2019.

How Do People Feel About Donating Digitally?

Let’s face it—most donations were made digitally in 2020 since much of the country, and even the world, was on lockdown for such a large portion of the year. So, you might be wondering how people feel about that…

Online giving through a website or app is nothing new. In fact, it’s been growing in popularity for years. What is new is that fundraising events and galas were moved to a virtual setting. 

Looking back to the Classy report, we can see that 30% of U.S. consumers participated in a virtual charity event in 2020, with 60% of them donating to a cause. And it’s not just the tech-savvy generations either. In fact, 48% of Gen X respondents supported virtual fundraising.

Impressions of such charitable giving trends 2020 brought us for virtual events are very positive, with 34% saying it’s a safe alternative to in-person events and 24% saying it makes fundraising and supporting an organization easier.

What can’t be missed here is that although many people like and even seem to now prefer virtual fundraising events, about 22% said it makes them feel disconnected. Nonprofits should keep in mind that as we move beyond the pandemic, a combination of virtual and in-person events is a good solution.

What Changes Were Necessary in 2020?

2020 was certainly a turning point year, forcing nonprofits all over the world to shift their approach to connect with potential donors and build donor loyalty in new ways. 

In many instances, it has served as a catalyst to move nonprofits more into the digital age, if they were lagging in any way. But until the pandemic is fully in control, COVID-19 will still shape giving behavior. And it’s important to keep in mind that this pandemic has also shifted many people’s behaviors for good. 

For example…

It’s likely that these types of behaviors are here to stay. After all, we’ve become accustomed to them, and in many cases, they are much easier than the way we previously went about life. 

How Will Charitable Giving Trends 2020 Shape the Future?

There is so much to be positive about when it comes to charitable giving moving forward. We’ve seen a record-breaking year of donations, and if your nonprofit hasn’t witnessed that increase firsthand, there’s still hope!

Be Online, but Get Creative

When we look at this in terms of charitable giving trends 2020, it’s clear that nonprofits need to be online as much as possible, but they have to be more creative when it comes to ensuring they connect with their potential donors. 

So, here are some questions you and your team should be asking…

And if you haven’t already, create a customer avatar (donor avatar) to ensure you really “get” the people who are most likely to give to your cause. By understanding the type of person you’re talking to, you’ll be able to speak directly to them. 

Be Relevant

People have discovered new causes to get behind this past year, many of which they have never even considered in past years. Furthermore, people who have never given in the past have been inspired to give in 2020.

Even if your organization has nothing to do with the main reason people are giving as a result of the pandemic, you can still make sure you are relevant to the latest happenings. Consider how your cause connects to the current goings-on, and describe to potential donors why their support is needed.  

Work with Other Brands

You don’t have to be a lone fish in a big sea, and there are plenty of ways to develop a joint venture with other companies online to increase your fundraising numbers. 

Get to know your donors on a deeper level and join up with companies that would support or already support your cause to come up with creative ways you can work together. For example, AmazonSmile donates 0.5% of purchases to charitable organizations. 

There are also plenty of small to mid-sized businesses who would be willing to host a one-day charitable event that would benefit your organization. A pizza shop, for example, might donate a portion of their proceeds to your cause for that day.

The Takeaway

When you stay on top of current events and find a way to make your nonprofit relevant, your organization can soar in times like these. Hopefully, this article has presented you not only with a positive view of the future but also some useful tips to apply the charitable giving trends 2020 has introduced to boost your donations in 2021 and beyond!


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