By Caroline Jones, Luisa Lima and Kinga Horvath
The COVID-19 pandemic triggered the implementation and use of new ways of giving. While citizens across the world needed to follow strict lockdown measures, urgent challenges—often across national borders—had to be addressed in a timely manner. Findings from the 2022 Global Philanthropy Environment Index (GPEI) show that the COVID-19 pandemic transformed philanthropic activities as nonprofit organizations and social businesses introduced new and innovative ways of fundraising, often based on digital solutions.
Organizations in Brazil and in the United Kingdom have different philanthropic environments. In the United Kingdom, the favorable environment (at an overall score of 4.07) and active and strategic governmental support promote philanthropic values. In Brazil, a less favorable philanthropic environment (at an overall score of 3.22), along with the lack of government initiatives to facilitate philanthropy, characterizes the country’s philanthropic landscape. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has majorly affected the philanthropic landscape in both countries. While the resilience of many nonprofit organizations weakened during the pandemic, the new environment also enhanced the visibility of nonprofit organizations and the value of philanthropy, and accelerated the implementation of new technologies in communication and fundraising. The report Digital for Good: A Global Study on Emerging Ways of Giving explores these emerging vehicles of philanthropy, such as crowdfunding, online giving, and social impact initiatives.
Technological innovation and digitalization have led to new ways of giving
In the last five years, philanthropy has become more digital, instant, and democratized than ever before. Technological innovations and new donation initiatives have the potential to change the mindset and behavior of everyday donors and strengthen philanthropy across the globe.
In the United Kingdom, online and digital giving have become more popular, especially during the pandemic. Cash has traditionally been the most popular means for people to donate to charity. In 2019, 51 percent of donors made a cash donation in the last year, but in 2020, this shrunk to just 38 percent of donors (CAF, 2021). According to Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)’s researchers “nowadays, the digital giving ecosystem encompasses in-app giving; Internet-of-Things applications that enable donations; donation buttons integrated into social media platforms; gaming platforms that allow users to collect donations on their respective platforms; large online retail platforms which enable customers to donate; and dedicated ‘rounding apps’ which enable donations when making an online purchase, such as Pledjar.”
In Brazil, new ways of giving, such as rounding up (giving money to a charity by using retail transactions at a retail store’s point of sale terminal or via its online website), recurring online giving, and social impact publishing aim “not only to provide new financial resources for nonprofit organizations, but also to promote philanthropy and enhance the giving culture by positively influencing donor mindsets”—as highlighted by researchers at IDIS—Institute for the Development of Social Investment. As an example, the online platform BSocial—one of the case studies discussed in the Brazil Report—invites donors to participate in recurring giving, hoping that the act of donation can be incorporated in many households’ day-to-day practices and budgets.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the onward course of philanthropy
In both countries, the COVID-19 pandemic led to new ways of giving and the acceleration of innovative, technology-based giving vehicles. In the United Kingdom, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a move toward online giving and donations made via contact-free or digital methods. The use of these methods peaked in Spring 2020 when the country first went into lockdown. In Brazil, the urgency of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic has also led many organizations to create, in record time, solutions that are both practical for donors and effective in facing global health and economic crises.
The COVID-19 pandemic had significant positive and negative impacts on philanthropy. Findings from IDIS shows that the impact of the pandemic leveraged corporate donations and gave charitable giving greater visibility in Brazil. However, platforms aimed at micro-donations, which primarily relied on giving in retail stores, such as Arredondar and Editora MOL, were also quickly forced to make their operations viable on online platforms.
CAF highlights that with limited opportunities to host fundraising events during the pandemic and lockdowns in the United Kingdom, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated a move towards online giving—younger donors are still more likely to use digital methods, but older donors are increasingly shifting to using technology to donate than in previous years.
The future of giving is hybrid.
Both CAF and IDIS expect that post-pandemic giving and fundraising will likely remain hybrid, as the adaptation of digital and hybrid giving models will augment crucial human interactions.
In Brazil, both empathy and solidarity are increasing towards other members of society and towards nonprofit organizations as communication about philanthropy has increased in mainstream media; however, transparency and accountability are essential to improve the overall philanthropic environment in the country. Thus, new and innovative ways of giving are committed to promoting accountability, and encouraging giving as a regular habit in the country.
In the United Kingdom, where philanthropy is more widespread, new ways of giving are also emerging such as donating through voice software, which allows individuals to verbally donate to charities through voice-based digital assistant devices such as ‘Alexa’.
About the Global Study
The Digital for Good: A Global Study on Emerging Ways of Giving report explores the most recent development of philanthropy in partnership with organizations and experts in eight countries: Brazil, China, India, Kenya, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. By exploring the emerging vehicles for philanthropy, this global study offers new insights for civil society leaders, philanthropists, and the public to better understand and shape the ever-evolving state of philanthropy.
Such a global study has the ability to develop the global network of philanthropy researchers and to build capacity in countries where philanthropy seems to have the potential to grow rapidly in the following years. It also provides a better understanding of global trends in philanthropy while putting a spotlight on local developments as well.
“International researchers share different perspectives, useful to anyone who is interested in contributing to a specific country’s development and also to those who wish to reflect about their own environment – Is it a trend in my country too? Will it be someday? If not, why? Knowledge starts with asking the right questions.” – Luisa Lima, Communication Manager at IDIS – Institute for Development of Social Investment
“Collaborating on this project with The Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has highlighted the benefits of what can be learned when we pool our resources and knowledge. It is especially exciting because international research like this helps to develop a deeper understanding of giving around the world, including how the pandemic is changing the shape of philanthropy. It also provides useful context for those wishing to donate across borders, which is likely to become increasingly important as recent disasters and crises have shown.” – Caroline Jones, Senior Communications Manager at Charities Aid Foundation
Caroline Jones is the Senior Communications Manager at Charities Aid Foundation. She leads campaigns to highlight the value and lasting impact of philanthropic giving, the work of charities in challenging times, and the important role that civil society plays across the globe.
Luisa Lima is the Communication Manager at IDIS – Institute for Development of Social Investment, responsible for managing institutional communication for the Institute. She is a leader in the strategic pillar of generating and spreading knowledge about social investment in the philanthropy sector and to other members of society.
Kinga Horvath is a Visiting Research Associate at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She co-leads international research projects on global philanthropy and cross-border giving, including the 2022 Global Philanthropy Environment Index, the 2020 Global Philanthropy Tracker, and the Digital for Good: A Global Study on Emerging Ways of Giving.
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF)
Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) is a leading charity and bank seeking to connect vital organizations, institutions and individuals working to ensure everyone has a stake in the future. We exist to accelerate progress in society towards a fair and sustainable future for all. For over 95 years, we’ve acted as a meeting point for companies, private philanthropists, fellow foundations, governments, charities, and not-for-profit enterprises. Our independence, expertise and international reach enable hundreds of millions of pounds each year to move across sectors and borders and arrive safely with thousands of charities to make a greater impact. We also lead an international network of like-minded charitable organizations. We collaborate to inspire innovation, share best practices, and improve cross-border giving in support of civil society.
IDIS – Institute for the Development of Social Investment
IDIS – Institute for Development of Social Investment is a civil society organization founded in 1999 and pioneer in technical support to social investors in Brazil. With the mission to inspire, support and promote strategic philanthropy and its impact, IDIS serves individuals, families, companies, corporate and family run institutes and foundations, as well as with civil society organizations, in actions that transform realities and contribute for the reduction of social inequality in the country. Our actions are based on the tripod of generating knowledge, offering advisory and developing social impact projects that contribute to the strengthening of the ecosystem of strategic philanthropy and of giving culture. We value partnerships and co-creating, and believe in the power of connection, of joint learning, of diversity and plurality of points of view.
Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy
The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy through its academic, research and international programs, and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving, Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy, and Women’s Philanthropy Institute.
 On the scale of 1 (indicating the least favorable philanthropic environment) to 5 (indicating the most favorable philanthropic environment). The global philanthropic environment was moderately favorable (with an average overall score of 3.63); and Western Europe was one of the highest scoring regions with an average 4.59 overall score.
 On the scale of 1 (indicating the least favorable philanthropic environment) to 5 (indicating the most favorable philanthropic environment). The global philanthropic environment was moderately favorable (with an average overall score of 3.63); but Latin America had a less favorable philanthropic environment with an average 3.17 overall score.