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COVID has sparked a surge of generosity

Pamela Norley is President of Fidelity Charitable, the largest donor advised fund in the United States. Fidelity recently published “Women and Giving,” an analysis of how the pandemic has affected women’s philanthropy.

Since his divorce from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Scott has donated more than $ 8 billion. What can women – and donors in general – learn from Scott’s philanthropy? It’s really exciting to see her sense of urgency when it comes to the donation. It does it very quickly, with a recognition of the need that exists because of the pandemic. Scott identified charities that have generally not been well funded. They don’t do a lot of marketing or advertise a lot. But the great thing that she does, which is very well received in the nonprofit community, is give unrestricted giving. When people make unrestricted donations, they allow the management of the nonprofit organization to use the money in whatever way they think is best to accomplish their mission.

How has the pandemic affected women’s charitable giving and philanthropy in general? The pandemic has strengthened for men and women what really matters – helping others. Women have always had a high commitment to give, but this has increased during the pandemic. We’ve been doing a study for some time that asks: How important is giving in your life? After the pandemic, 84% of women said it was an important part of their life. That’s nine points more than the last time we did this poll. After the pandemic, 81% of men said giving was a very important part of their life. This is an increase of 12 points from the last survey. Donors have also been pressured to deal with the economic impacts of the crisis. Each year, we list the top 20 organizations that our donors support. In 2020, we had three food-focused organizations on this list for the first time. People recognize that there is a huge need for basic nutrition, which is necessary for people to live their lives.

What giving trends have you seen among millennials? We just did a report a few months ago on the future of philanthropy, and the big idea we got from that research is that millennials are taking a very holistic approach to philanthropy. First, they focus on working for a company that matches their values. Second, they make decisions as consumers to donate money to brands that are making a difference in the world. Third, they make impact investing. And fourth, they are generous, even though they may not have a lot of money. Charitable donations have become charitable work for this generation.

The victims of the condominium collapse in Surfside, Florida receive millions in donations. Inevitably, some crooks will try to exploit the disaster. What’s the best way to help disaster victims? You should donate to organizations that are very well versed in disaster response. Large organizations that are used to providing services to a disaster-stricken community have the scale, technology, and volunteers that make it possible to achieve the highest level of service in a short period of time. Disasters create a significant opportunity for people to profit from the generosity of Americans. That’s why we usually refer people to larger nonprofits that have already been successful in helping people.

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