Pandemic Causes Decline In Americans’ Charitable Giving In Recent Survey

COVID-19 is affecting American’s donations of time and money to charitable causes. Data from Gallup shows that only 73 percent of Americans donated money to charity in the past year, reflecting a new low. The analytics and advisory firm reports that typically more than 80 percent of U.S. adults say they donated money in the past year. Its previous low of 79 percent was recorded in 2009, with the economy mired in the Great Recession.

Gallup’s poll, which was conducted April 14-28, also found that volunteer activity has dipped to 58 percent. While not as low as the 55 percent recorded in 2009, it is down from the 64 percent Gallup recorded the last time the question was asked in 2017. Among those who have done some charitable work in the past year, one in three—equivalent to 29 percent of all U.S. adults—say they have performed some work in the past two months specifically to help with coronavirus relief efforts.

Last month, Gallup found that 30 percent of Americans reported some direct financial harm from the coronavirus pandemic, and it suspects they may have difficulty devoting resources to charitable organizations. Looking ahead, 66 percent say they do not plan to change the amount they give to charity in the coming year. However, more plan to increase (25 percent) rather than decrease (seven percent) their charitable contributions. As a caveat, Gallup notes, “The duration and severity of the economic downturn will be a key factor in whether Americans are able to fulfill those intentions.”

Gallup does give some context on its findings. While its questions ask about the past 12 months, it’s possible that some respondents’ answers may reflect only current or very recent activity, as prior to the pandemic the U.S. had experienced a strong economy. It also cites past evidence of seasonal patterns in responses, noting higher estimates of charitable activity when the question is asked in December than in other months of the year.

For further details on Gallup’s findings, click here.

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