The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage unabated. Global infection rates and fatality rates have reached unprecedented levels, especially in the United States of America. Jo Biden, the 46th US president, noted in his inaugural speech that the SARS-CoV-2 virus has “taken as many lives in one year as America lost in all of World War II.”
Additionally, the coronavirus’s impact has driven the world into an economic recession last experienced in the 1930s Great Depression. As a result, it is reasonable to assume that charitable giving and philanthropic acts in the form of donations to charity would have all but dried up by now.
However, this is not the case. Statistics quoted by thenonprofittimes.com report that charitable giving increased by just under 7.5% in the first six months of 2020, compared to the first half of 2019. This increase in charitable donations is primarily driven by the rise in the number of smaller donations, $250 or less.
This report titled “Hot Second Quarter Boosts 2020 Giving Past Last year,” records a 19.2% increase in these smaller donations compared to 2019. Lastly, the total number of donors grew by 7.2%, with the number of new givers increased by 12.6%.
These statistics allow us to draw several important conclusions. Therefore, let’s expand on this topic by considering the following points.
People become acutely aware of suffering during a crisis
The questions that beg are whether the reason for an increase in charitable giving during crises is that the human race becomes acutely aware of other less fortunate people. And why we respond by donating to charity as part of our response to this heightened awareness.
In her article titled, “Are We Biologically Wired to Help Others During Crisis,” Tracy Asamoah provides insight into the possible answers to these questions. She starts her discussion by noting that “interpersonal connections reveal our humanity” in disasters or critical situations.
For instance, after the 2017 hurricanes had all but destroyed the state of Texas, stories emerged of how neighbors and community members had banded together to rescue those stranded by the floods. Andpeople from far away also contributed to the rescue effort by donating directly and fundraising to donate supplies to the hurricane-ravaged communities.
As a result, the increase in charitable giving during the COVID-19 pandemic can be ascribed to the fact that it is human nature to respond to natural disasters and other traumatic events. In summary, we are biologically wired to react altruistically by donating to charities and helping out in our local communities to ease the suffering of those who are less fortunate than we are and those who have lost everything as a consequence of the event or the ongoing crisis.
The deepening crisis increases our altruism
Not only are we biologically wired to help people less fortunate than ourselves during a crisis, irrespective of the length of the traumatic event, but as the consequences of a catastrophic event are ongoing for an indeterminate period, people seem to step up to the plate and increase their philanthropic actions.
This COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point. The novel coronavirus was first noticed in the last days of 2019. Therefore, the global community has been battling this virus for over a year now, costing the worldwide economy $11.7 trillion as of the end of 2020. This number will more than likely increase exponentially as the pandemic grinds on. And as noted above, it is reasonable to assume that as the recession’s economic consequences hit more people, giving to charity will dry up. However, the facts show that precisely the opposite is true.
Therefore, it is feasible to conclude that the longer the coronavirus plays a significant role in creating an economic and health crisis, the more the charitable giving figures will increase.