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Despite COVID, Americans are in a generous mood

Unsplash/Joel Muniz
Unsplash/Joel Muniz

Americans are in a generous mood — and this end-of-year giving season could be the best ever for the nation’s charities. Even in the midst of the pandemic!

How do I know this?

Our consultancy firm, DickersonBakker (, has just released the results of its new comprehensive nationwide survey of donors’ charitable giving intentions.

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A whopping 90% of donors expect to give the same — or more — to charity this year compared with last year

And considering last year’s charitable giving smashed records, that’s terrific news for America’s 1.5 million nonprofits as they gear up for the most important fundraising period of the year — the “final quarter flurry,” when many of them will receive up to 40% of their total annual revenue.

Avalanche of need

In a year of pandemic-related cancellations, closures, and frustrations, America’s nonprofits — struggling to meet the avalanche of human needs in our communities —  desperately need a boost.

And our study of 1,149 mostly faith-based donors during June and July shows that Americans are in a characteristically generous mood.

Why is this so important?

First, it shows the resilience and strength of the American spirit — our resolve to “do the right thing,” even in the face of a global pandemic and other major challenges at home and abroad.

Second, millions of people in the U.S. and overseas rely on — even live or die on — the support of America’s nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits in the human services sector, especially, provide essential help to U.S. families experiencing poverty and those at risk of hunger and homelessness. Overseas, America’s nonprofits champion lifesaving health, clean water, and community development projects, and much more.

And third, America’s nonprofit industry is just that — a massive multi-billion-dollar industry, employing one in every 10 Americans working in the private sector and accounting for some 12.3 million jobs. In the nation’s capital, one in every four private-sector employees works for a nonprofit.

Confidence riding high

Our new survey shows strong confidence in the U.S. economy right now. More than three out of every four donors are confident about their financial investments. That’s important because donors’ perceptions of the economy and the financial markets drive how much they’re going to give to charitable causes.

All the indicators are that people are feeling secure and optimistic about the economy, despite the lingering pandemic — and they’re also very mindful of the needs of others and that many people are still suffering.

We Americans hate to see people in distress — especially our neighbors, many of whom are struggling financially, anxious about the future, and under huge stress, fueling addictions and family break-ups.

Last year, as the pandemic tightened its grip, we conducted a similar nationwide study. The results of that survey proved strikingly accurate. That’s why I’m confident we’re going to see donors give generously — as our new survey suggests — over the coming weeks.

But nonprofits can’t afford to be shy. They need to tap into the current flow of generosity.

Articulate and ask

In order to benefit from the generosity of donors who are eager to support them, nonprofits must articulate their needs compellingly and be deliberate in asking for support, because people respond well when they see the need and they’re asked to help.

The pandemic robbed us of being together. But our new survey shows half to three-quarters of donors are ready to come out for in-person donor events. They’re just waiting for the invitation.

No one — myself included — can predict what’s going to happen next year. But right now there’s plenty for nonprofits to cheer about.

2021 could be the best fundraising year ever for America’s deserving charities.

And that’s great news for all of us.

Derric Bakker is the president of DickersonBakker (, a consultancy firm specializing in helping faith-based nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Canada, and overseas engage donors and maximize their charitable giving. Read the full report at Charitable Giving in the Wake of COVID-19.

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