News & Press: Member Insights

Positive Trends in Our Current Philanthropic Environment

Monday, April 27, 2020  

By Russ Hodge, CEO at The Hodge Group

As we all navigate this new normal, The Hodge Group appreciates your friendship and admires your commitment to building a stronger organization in the face of these challenging times. We've found that the American spirit of generosity excels during difficult times, rather than folding under pressure, and these times are no different.

Last week, we sat on a webinar from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and heard from Dr. Una Osili, who delivers the annual Giving USA report on the national state of philanthropy. From the beginning of this crisis, we've been telling our friends that Americans double down on philanthropy in the face of adversity, and her webinar validated that view. Here are some of the top takeaways we gathered and wanted to share with you:

  • Nonprofits are taking advantage of the current environment to streamline both their internal and external communications. By being forced to adapt to digital channels, nonprofits are innovating naturally and in ways that are enhancing their relevance with their constituency groups. From video platforms like Zoom to social media platforms like TikTok, nonprofits are finding new ways to engage stakeholders and the results could be better P2P fundraising campaigns, heightened efficiencies in staff communications, and more.
  • The Lilly School tracks giving during disasters, and what we've seen so far with COVID-19 is record levels of seven-figure gifts being made to organizations.
  • Several human service organizations are seeing new donors come in and make gifts unprompted, and some regular donors to those organizations are making larger than usual gifts as well.
  • Several virtual events are raising more than the in-person events did.
  • Planned giving suffered a setback during the great recession as some people asked their Planned Giving prospects to give now. A similar trend has not been examined for this crisis thus far, but it is worth paying attention to see if that changes.
  • The Lilly School is advising nonprofits in the midst of capital campaigns to extend pledge periods as is appropriate, and The Hodge Group agrees with this recommendation.
  • Annual gifts are up significantly in social services organizations.

To sum up, we've found that stakeholders will thank you for calm, reliable, constant contact that can adapt to shifting realities during times of crises. While we do not want to offer false hope to people and things could change quickly, there is plenty to celebrate about the current state of philanthropy and that positivity should be celebrated more than ever now.


225 W. Wacker Drive | Chicago, IL | 60606