Last week, I served as a panelist as part of a weekly Zoom series that Philanthropy Miami is offering as a service to the nonprofit community in Miami.  We had nearly 30 professionals from a wide variety of organizations such as those providing social services assistance within the Haitian community to those providing comfort to families with sick children to those focused on education and the arts.

This is the second of a three-part series exploring the most pressing questions we received from our participants.

“What will fundraising look like post COVID-19 crisis?”

We all wish we had a crystal ball to predict our fundraising future. Short of that, I shared relevant research conducted by Stanford University after the Great Recession.

  • Stanford analysis concluded that total giving fell by 7% in 2008, and another 6% in 2009, so the overall decline between 2007 and 2010 was 10.9%.
  • However, it’s worth noting that giving as a percent of GDP remained in the same historical range. While donors were giving the same percentage of their income, their total income was lower resulting in a lower absolute value of contributions.
  • After that recession, giving by corporations and foundations also declined. However, the shock of the coronavirus has led to massive corporate contributions, so anecdotally, giving from corporations may be up in this cycle.
  • Today, as in the case of the Great Recession, Feeding America and food banks have been the recipients of a surge in giving commensurate with the surge in demand from food bank beneficiaries. Jeff Bezos’ gift to Feeding America, the largest in their history, is one example.
  • We may anticipate that giving from Foundations to poverty-relevant causes will increase in the recovery from the COVID-19 health and economic crises. After the Great Recession, states with the highest unemployment rates received 19% of Foundation grants in 2008 and increased to a staggering 65% of Foundation grants in 2009.

While the Great Recession offers us some sense of what’s ahead, the health and economic damage from the coronavirus pandemic will take months and, perhaps years, to assess and repair.  None of us knows with certainty what we will face.

What I do know is that this represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to change our fundraising behavior and to influence changes in our donors’ behavior.

Here’s what I hope will happen if we spend these weeks and months focused on donor stewardship, nurturing donor relationships and enhancing donor commitment to our missions:

  1. A move away from restricted giving
  2. A transition away from event-based fundraising and toward annual giving
  3. A clear understanding of our community partnerships
  4. A move to faster decision-making from institutional and corporate funders
  5. Less formality in our solicitations, fewer long proposals

If I can help you and your organization sort through the implications of COVID-19 on your fundraising, contact me at or 305-338-1735.  Wishing you all the best.