This article was provided by and expresses the views of Nancy Bikson, Managing Director at Chapel & York, a partner firm of the Beacon Gainer private client advisory services group.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a far-reaching impact on the charity sector, as it has on many others. Whilst need for services has grown, funding and staff has reduced. Donors reacted to appeals from organisations who were involved with the pandemic, be it research, medical or related, but without any guarantee of long-term involvement. Meanwhile charities unrelated to the pandemic had to work to be seen as relevant in a world which for many had come to a stop.
As a result, it is estimated that the sector in the UK alone could see a £12.4 billion shortfall in income for 2020, with some 84% of charities reporting a decrease in their total income during lockdown. Cancer Research UK reports it believes it will lose £300 million over the next 3 years.
But it is not all doom and gloom. Whilst some regular supporters have cut back, facing uncertainty over jobs and personal finances, others have dug deep in response to current needs and to help those charities they have always supported. In the US, according to a survey carried out for Dunham+Company , although 20% of donors said they will stop giving until there is a return to economic growth, a more significant 53% of donors said they plan to be giving more carefully during the pandemic but will still continue to donate. Corporate giving in the US grew and accounts for more than $5 billion of donations, according to Candid, a group that tracks global philanthropy. Twitter Inc.’s Jack Dorsey is the largest single donor, contributing $1 billion, while Alphabet Inc.’s Google is the largest corporate donor, giving more than $907 million, its data showed.
And Muslim giving has soared in response to the pandemic. MyTenNights, a non-profit organisation which collects donations for several charities in five countries, said at least £6.8 million has been donated to a number of aid groups on its online portal. This compares with £2.7 million at the same point last year.
Some organisations have found new ways to engage with their supporters online, and have discovered that this is actually very effective and can broaden their reach dramatically.
The Met Opera in New York, for example, has been streaming their back-catalogue of recorded operas. They have had millions of viewers watching them over the past months and have received extensive financial support from those who want to give back for the enjoyment they have had. Organisations, in this time of extreme need, have reached out to stakeholders and found them understanding and willing to help. Gone (for the moment at least) is the fancy dinner, hosting a marathon or any other event, replaced instead by contact, and an understanding of what is required.
Going forwards some charitable organisations will continue to use many of the modern technologies to engage their stakeholders. But others, if they have survived this crisis without them, will feel more comfortable with their traditional work; events will reappear; travel will begin again, and their donors will continue to be philanthropic.
People will always support those causes which move them, some in very organised ways such as Impact Investing with detailed evaluations, some in response to needs as they arise. Trusts and foundations may in the future require fewer hurdles before making grants, and holders of Donor Advised Funds may accelerate making grants from them – all of which would be very welcome.
What this strange time has done is to highlight charitable organisations as never before. And when the world starts to emerge from these difficult times, hopefully that light will guide the way to a more effective, more philanthropic future.