New report from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute explores how COVID-19 influenced giving across different households
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) today released a report that examines household giving during the first year of the global pandemic. The report finds that while giving by all household types increased between May 2020 and May 2021, both single women and married/partnered couples gave less to charity compared to before the pandemic and compared to single men. This trend differs from previous research from WPI and others, which has consistently shown that single women and couples are more likely to give than similarly situated single men.
“Across all measures, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women, and created unprecedented stress for parents, particularly in BIPOC communities. Women, especially mothers of school-aged children, are leaving the workforce in high numbers. The findings from this report suggest that this consistent pressure has affected not only women’s giving but couples’ philanthropy as well,” said Jeannie Sager, director of the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
The report, titled COVID-19, Generosity, and Gender: How Giving Changed During the First Year of a Global Pandemic, was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and tells an encouraging story about how U.S. households respond by giving during a prolonged crisis. Rather than experiencing generosity fatigue, people continued to support charitable organizations, especially those focused on basic needs and health, and the share of households giving directly for COVID-19 relief increased by more than 9 percentage points from May 2020 to May 2021.
COVID-19, Generosity, and Gender: How Giving Changed During the First Year of a Global Pandemic includes numerous findings about household giving during the first year of the pandemic that can help inform nonprofit organizations’ strategies for 2022. The findings suggest that COVID-19 has had an uneven impact on different types of households, especially by income and wealth: those who lost jobs or income were less likely to give and volunteer. This year’s report builds on earlier research from WPI that explores how U.S. households engaged in charitable activity during the spring of 2020.
“The giving environment continues to be shaped by health shocks and economic uncertainty. For nonprofits, tailoring their appeals based on a donor’s current situation can help to maintain relationships that will outlast the pandemic. For businesses, philanthropy, government and others, the report elevates the need to address how this crisis impacts women and families,” said Una Osili, Ph.D., associate dean for research and international programs at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
Key findings from the report include:
- The share of households who gave directly to charitable organizations, individuals, or businesses for COVID-19 relief increased by 9.3 percentage points from May 2020 to May 2021.
- In response to the pandemic, overall charitable giving to organizations focused on basic needs and health saw strong growth from May 2020 to May 2021. While giving to organizations focused on religion and all other purposes also increased during this time, U.S. households are giving less to these organizations than before the pandemic began.
- Contracting COVID-19 did not have a clear effect on overall charitable giving, but was associated with increased giving for COVID-19 relief. The economic impacts of the pandemic, however, decreased overall charitable giving to all three organization types (basic needs and health, religion, and all other organizations).
- Single women and married/partnered couples increased their overall charitable giving from May 2020 to May 2021, but are giving less to most charitable organizations than before the pandemic began.
View the full report and visual summary
About the Women’s Philanthropy Institute
The Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) is part of the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. WPI increases understanding of women’s philanthropy through rigorous research and education, interpreting and sharing these insights broadly to improve philanthropy. By addressing significant and groundbreaking research questions and translating that research into increased understanding and improvements in practice, WPI helps to leverage new and expanded resources for the common good.
About the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its undergraduate, graduate, certificate and professional development programs, its research and international programs and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, the Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute. Follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram, and “Like” us on Facebook.