Giving is at an all-time high.

According to the Giving USA 2020 annual report, national philanthropy reached the highest dollar total to date – $449 billion. In fact, the past three years hold the highest giving amounts on record.

And while this news is something to celebrate, it also reminds us of why Americans and San Diegans alike believe that philanthropy is so critical. Charitable giving plays an important role in our communities, before, during and after a crisis. Today it’s serving as a lifeline for thousands of local families and individuals.

We don’t know the full scope of 2020 charitable giving yet, but we can already see the widespread and far-reaching impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on local and national philanthropy this year.

According to the University of San Diego Nonprofit Institute State of Nonprofits & Philanthropy report, despite the strength of San Diego’s nonprofit sector in 2019, in 2020 COVID-19 has had an unprecedented effect on nonprofit services, financial health and employment. But there is progress.

Overall, organizations have increased their operational capacity by 21 percent from March to September, with the percentage of organizations operating to a greater extent than usual having more than doubled by 15 percent from March to September.

The Giving USA report also highlights how corporations are stepping up their philanthropy. Giving by corporations is estimated to have increased by 13.4 percent in 2019, with more than $21 billion in corporate gifts.

While it’s still too soon to tell what this will mean for the unchartered territory we find ourselves in today, we are encouraged by local businesses such as San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Qualcomm and Illumina that have answered the call for help in the midst of the pandemic. SDG&E alone has contributed almost $3 million dollars in corporate funds to support the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund alongside Qualcomm and Illumina, which have each contributed more than $1 million to support nonprofit organizations that serve our region’s most vulnerable communities. Blue Shield of California, Lundbeck US, Novartis, Genentech, NEWS8 and Wells Fargo also stepped up to help with gifts exceeding $100,000.

Collective Giving at Its Best

Alongside the increase in corporate giving reported by Giving USA in 2019 is an increase in individual gifts. Giving by individuals achieved the second-highest total dollar amount, increasing by 2.8 percent from the previous year. Locally, the Nonprofit Institute report highlights that while individual giving remained steady, the average quarterly gift amount made by San Diego households increased by $58 from 2019 to 2020. Of those who reported donating, 50 percent reported that their giving priorities changed due to the pandemic.

Source: University of San Diego Nonprofit Institute State of Nonprofits & Philanthropy Report 2020

The elevated need for nonprofit services is apparent in the 69 percent of Human Services organizations that reported a significant increase in demand, according to the report. “[We are] changing our services to be successful in meeting the needs of people where they are because of COVID-19”, one nonprofit leader shared.

To date, the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund has rapidly deployed more than $50 million in grants on a rolling basis to local nonprofit organizations that are supporting our workers, families, and others adversely affected by the coronavirus crisis.

What is clear and conclusive amidst all the data is that now, more than ever, nonprofit organizations continue to need our support to be there for those who need a hand up.

Despite the current crisis we face, San Diego has proven its resiliency through the powerful collective efforts of corporations, foundations, nonprofits and individuals who help make our region a better, stronger and more equitable place to thrive for years to come.

Learn more about giving in San Diego by checking out our 2020 Annual Report.

View the 2020 Annual Report