Study: Social donations increased in pandemic year

Keywords Philanthropy
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Social giving is on the rise, a new research study shows, despite a year-long pandemic that has kept people from gathering.

OneCause, a fundraising solutions organization based in Indianapolis, released a research study June 1 that found giving from social donors is on the rise, even amidst a period of social distancing.

The study, which was a followup to a 2018 survey, defines social donors as “those who donated or attended a fundraising event, sponsored someone or participated in a fundraising run, walk, ride, or someone who donated or requested donations as a part of a fundraising challenge, occasion or giving day.”

OneCause surveyed 1,026 people as part of its study and found that 27% of U.S. adults self-identify as social donors, an increase from 23% in 2018.

The increase comes from Gen Z and Millennials, who now comprise a majority of OneCause’s surveyed social donors, partly due to the increased access to philanthropy that social giving supplies, with the study finding that “ease” is the biggest motivator of giving.

Online giving is also becoming more common, providing easier access to interested donors.

The percentage of participants using a mobile phone as a channel of donating increased from 8% in 2018 to 23% in 2021, while in-person donation channels, such as using cash or a check in-person, decreased from 55% in 2018 to 36% in 2021.

Locally, not-for-profits are benefitting from the increase in giving.

TechPoint Foundation for Youth, which provides STEM opportunities to Indiana students from low-income and low educational attainment families, has found success over the last year with online events and donation channels.

“What I found is I couldn’t have these personal interactions with our partners like we normally could,” said George Giltner, president and CEO of TechPoint Foundation for Youth. “I couldn’t talk with them face to face and let them hear and feel my tone and testimony of the work we do. So, we had to come up with creative solutions.”

The foundation in 2020 partnered with OneCause for its major fundraising events and found success with OneCause’s peer-to-peer software, which is a digital form of fundraising that connects individual donors to fundraising events online.

On Giving Tuesday 2020, a global generosity day the Tuesday after Thanksgiving when individuals are encouraged to donate to not-for-profit organizations, TechPoint Foundation for Youth raised nearly $30,000. By comparison, in 2019, the company raised less than $10,000.

TechPoint’s Mira Awards event, an annual event honoring achievement in technology, contains a segment that promotes donations to the organization’s Foundation for Youth. The 2021 event raised $54,000, up from $10,000 the year before.

“It was the ease of use that helped, there was a QR code on the screen that took you to the giving page that had the organization’s mission and testimonial videos,” Giltner said.

The organization saw an increase in both individual giving and grants and believes the important role not-for-profits played during the past year motivated new and recurring donors.

“It really moved me that people are willing to go deep into their pocket to support our cause, and I’m grateful for the generosity of individuals and our partners in the community,” Giltner said.

The social environment of the past year has also spurred new individual donors. OneCause found that current issues, including Black Lives Matter, natural disasters and the financial and physical effects of COVID-19, were the motivation for 41% of survey respondents’ gifts.

While social giving has increased in the recent period of time, the survey did find that 71% of participants are either close to being ready or ready to attend in-person fundraising events again.

But virtual events might remain popular.

Of the people surveyed, 38% said they anticipate a preference for virtual events post-pandemic, while 22% anticipate a preference for in-person events.  Thirty percent anticipate preferencing a mix of the two.

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2 thoughts on “Study: Social donations increased in pandemic year

    1. social giving is a charitable donation via the conduit of social media.

      article could have better defined this IMO