Pandemic-related giving is continuing even as the world enters the third year of the crisis, according to Vanguard Charitable.

Giving continues to increase and the areas that have drawn attention because of the hardships presented by the pandemic—hunger and homelessness—are still top of mind for donors, Jodi Rosen, director of product and business development for Vanguard Charitable, said in an interview.

Increases in generosity predate the pandemic. For the fifth year in a row donors have set new giving records, Vanguard Charitable said in its 2022 annual report. Donors granted more than $1.78 billion to nonprofits through Vanguard Charitable, a 6% increase over 2020. Nearly 200,000 grants were made to 54,000 unique organizations with these funds. In 2021, Vanguard Charitable also attracted 3,500 new donors, a 30% increase over 2020. Since inception, Vanguard Charitable has granted more than $13.4 billion to nonprofits, the report said.

“Giving has increased exponentially,” Rosen said. In part it has been prompted by Covid-19, “but we know that there always seems to be an unexpected natural disaster or some other need that causes our donors to think how they can support those in need.”

The philanthropists chronicled by Vanguard Charitable gave to the organizations they have in the past, while also donating to nonprofits not previously supported. Donors on average gave to 8% more organizations that they had not supported the previous year, the report said.

In 2021, the top areas of giving in order of grants received were human services, religious organizations, education, health, environment and wildlife, arts and culture, and civic organizations.

Top 10 nonprofits supported by Vanguard Charitable donors, by number of grants issued were:
1. Doctors Without Borders USA
2. Planned Parenthood Federation Of America - National Headquarters
3. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
4. Cru / Campus Crusade For Christ
5. Samaritan's Purse
6. American Civil Liberties Union Foundation
7. International Rescue Committee
8. American National Red Cross - National Headquarters
9. Southern Poverty Law Center
10. Natural Resources Defense Council

A trend that bodes well for charities is that more donors are giving unrestricted gifts, giving nonprofits the flexibility to use the money where it is needed most. In 2021, more than half of all giving was unrestricted, up from 42% of grant dollars in 2020. Unrestricted giving is one of the things charities have been asking for and which Vanguard Charitable encourages, Rosen said.

In response to the pandemic, Vanguard Charitable developed NAVi for Hunger & Homelessness, which is available for free on Vanguard Charitable’s website. The interactive tool is designed to help donors connect with nonprofits in their local communities and those operating in geographic areas struggling with homelessness and hunger. In 2021, grant dollars to nonprofits focused on hunger, housing, or both categories increased 5% over 2020, with Vanguard Charitable donors giving $316 million to nearly 12,000 hunger and homelessness-focused nonprofits across the United States, Vanguard Charitable said.

“After polling our donors and connecting with nonprofits on the front lines, we found the most effective way to inspire the giving public to make a difference in this next phase of the pandemic was through a focus on hunger and homelessness causes,” Rosen said in a statement. “NAVi for Hunger & Homelessness unifies donors in the fight to eradicate these issues by encouraging them to support nonprofits in their own communities—or those communities facing the greatest need.”

“2021 brought new challenges to our nation and our donors once again increased their generosity to a wide range of deserving nonprofits,” Rebecca Moffett, president of Vanguard Charitable, said in a statement. “By identifying and supporting a diverse level of cause areas, our donors continue to pave the way to assist nonprofits in their greatest time of need.”