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Large majority of donors expect no impact from COVID-19 this year

In good news for churches and faith-based organizations, the vast majority of donors don’t the expect the covid-19 pandemic to reduce their giving for the rest of 2020. However, experts warn nonprofit organizations not to be complacent in their fundraising efforts, saying there will be winners and losers in the quest for donations.

A comprehensive nationwide survey of the giving intentions of 1,079 donors across 44 states was conducted from May 29 to June 22 by DickersonBakker in cooperation with some of America’s largest faith-based nonprofit organizations. The findings mirror assessments by economists who are optimistic about the economy as it pulls out of the pandemic.

According to the just-released report, 85 percent of donors surveyed online expect the amount they give to charity to stay at last year’s level or increase in the second half of 2020. That’s encouraging news for the nation’s 1.5 million registered nonprofit organizations — including faith-based nonprofits — that live or die on charitable donations, said Paul Martin, a senior partner with DickersonBakker.

“This study provides heartening news that should give nonprofit leaders the confidence they need to look beyond the shutdown and start making longer-term plans again,” he said.

The survey of mid-level and major donors — those giving anywhere from $1,000 to $1 million-plus per year — revealed six out of 10 expect their giving to stay the same as last year’s, and one in four expect to increase their charitable gifts in the second half of 2020. Only one in six donors expect to give less, and fewer than one in 20 anticipate a substantial drop in their giving for the rest of the year.

“Of course, actual results will vary for each organization,” Martin said. “There are many variables in play, such as how effectively organizations engage their donors.”

Donors optimistic about economy

Overall, U.S. donors appear to be optimistic about economic recovery in coming months, said Dr. Paul Virts, who headed the research, noting more than a third of those surveyed report their financial situation is better than last year.

“Nearly two-thirds expect the economy will rebound by the end of 2020 or by the middle of 2021 at the latest,” Virts said. “Only a small minority — nine percent — say they don’t expect the economy to recover to pre-pandemic levels for a very long time.”

The fall fundraising season — an important time of the year for nonprofits — will produce winners and losers, said Derric Bakker, president of DickersonBakker. Uncertainty remains about Republicans keeping control of the Senate, and, of course a second term for President Trump.  Democrats have stated they will raise taxes on businesses and individuals which will affect giving at all levels.

“In this environment, donors are clearly being more vigilant in their giving, and nonprofit fundraisers who are complacent in presenting a strong case — or who are not attentive to donors’ needs — will likely pay a price,” he said. “Nonprofits that rely on major events will likely need to find other ways to raise money if they’re to meet their fundraising goals.”

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice