There’s no denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed pretty much everything, and philanthropy is no exception.
2020 saw not only a global pandemic, but also record-breaking wildfires in Australia and the U.S., a new push for racial equality that could represent the biggest grassroots movement in American history, and the ongoing struggle against climate change.
Philanthropy has had to adapt to stay relevant, from a changing relationship with the arts to embracing new best practices to a renewed focus on indigenous peoples and racial equality issues.
These are a few of the ways that philanthropy has changed, perhaps permanently, as a result of the world-changing events of the last 12 months.
Philanthropy From Billionaires
In his book The Givers: Wealth, Power, and Philanthropy in a New Gilded Age, David Callahan, founder of Inside Philanthropy, describes a new age of philanthropy dominated by the uber-wealthy after decades of wealth accumulation among the top 1 percent.
In some ways, we can already see this change. Although 2020 saw a record amount of philanthropic donations, they came from a smaller number of super-wealthy individuals, like Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and others.
Callahan points out the double edge of this change. On the one hand, philanthropy is now being harnessed by both old institutions like The Rockefeller Foundation as well as the new wealth of Silicon Valley tech moguls.
At the same time, though billionaires aided people around the world afflicted by the pandemic, the money they gave away is barely anything compared to what top earners made during the pandemic. While millions if not billions of people around the world found themselves without a job, the top earners actually made even more money.
Rise of Innovation
All institutions and businesses have had to adapt in some way to the new normal of the pandemic, and philanthropic organizations are no exception.
In California, private philanthropy, regional nonprofits and the state decided to work together to help immigrants affected by COVID-19. The public and private sectors came together and combined resources from the $75 million Disaster Relief Fund and the privately funded $5.5 million California Immigrant Resilience Fund.
By doing so, California was able to effectively support families of undocumented residents.
The local nonprofits were then able to quickly and efficiently get that money to the undocumented people they’d been serving for years before COVID-19.
Thomas Kane, a private wealth manager from Chicago, said that nonprofits and charities must embrace their own ability to innovate.
Innovation isn’t just for the tech giants, Kane said.
“It’s not enough to just ask your supporters or grantees for help coming up with new ideas,” Chicago’s Thomas Kane said. “This is the age of innovation. No industry can afford to rest on their laurels. Not anymore. If you’re not innovating, you’re probably not growing.”
More Women Getting Involved
Even before the pandemic, women held 75 percent of the jobs in the nonprofit sector, according to a study completed by the White House.
But more and more women are also taking leadership roles and proactively steering their organizations into new territory.
Women are now playing a key role in the modern nonprofit landscape.
“Women have always been stronger than men in fundraising for charities, but now they—and we really—want more options, more opportunities for creativity and partnership,” Jodi Patkin, VP of brand strategy and communications at March of Dimes, said in an exclusive interview with NonProfit PRO.
According to the report “Women and Million Dollar Giving: Current Landscape and Trends to Watch,” women control 51 percent of all U.S.
That comes out to a total of $14 trillion. Additionally, 45 percent of U.S. millionaires are women and 40 percent of U.S. households have women as the primary breadwinner.
The world is changing all around us, and philanthropy is staying relevant by understanding these changes and adapting in real time.