How the Pandemic Changed Charitable Giving

An elderly gentleman friend of mine is a faithful churchgoer. I happened to run into him recently (not literally of course, we were both out walking and wearing our face masks). He mentioned that he was feeling a bit guilty because he was not placing an offering in the basket at church each week. In fact, he hadn’t attended church since before Easter due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

I mentioned that his church may have an online platform to receive donations. He replied that he not only didn’t know whether it did — he didn’t even know whether his church had a website! “Let’s see,” I said, taking my cellphone from my pocket. His church did have a website, and did take donations online. 

“Oh my,” he continued. “I’ll have to have my grandson come over and help me make my usual donation. I might not be going to church, but the work of the church continues even with this virus. In fact, they may need my stewardship now more than ever!” 

We parted ways, but it left me thinking. What about our church families who may have lost their jobs, or have had extra medical expenses? Who is helping them? How many individuals and families quit giving because they quit going? Who is making the excuse that giving online is too difficult or not safe? 

What I found was heartening. It says a lot about Americans that, according to a study by Fidelity Charitable, most donors are maintaining — or even increasing — charitable giving during Covid.

According to the survey:

  • Volunteer hours decreased as people were urged to to stay home.
  • Most donors are worried about nonprofits’ ability to operate during these times.
  • Donors are likely to continue giving, especially to the same organizations.

The same study mentions that Donor-Advised Fund donors are taking COVID-19 into account in their giving, and most are staying the course and trusting their fund managers to make good choices during this pandemic period.

We find that people long for ways to connect with others during the pandemic. It’s a human motivation that is serving our national interests while making us feel better about ourselves. God “is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow” [Heb 13:8] and His work is never-ending. And it seems that both donors and DAF managers are walking in His footsteps.

Labor Day Then and Now

In the midst of today’s devastating worldwide pandemic, if it was reported that the majority of Americans in the United States worked 12-hour days, 7-days a week, would you believe it? Of course not! But during the smallpox pandemic from 1877 to 1977, when 500 million lost their lives and the mortality death rate was as high as 35%, that’s exactly what happened. It was not until 1980 that the World Health Organization declared smallpox to be eradicated. 
Source: Google COVID-19 Alert

As of this writing, there are 6.13 million cases and 186,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the U.S. with a mortality death rate of 3%. As of June, 30 million lost their jobs as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and related shutdowns, and some think the real numbers are as high as 40 million.
Source: Wall Street Journal

What is startling about these numbers is the resolve of the working class in the last century. Labor Day was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894 to celebrate workers and their achievements. American workers dedicated 12 hours a day, seven days a week to their jobs just to make a living. Even children as young as 5 or 6 worked in mills and factories to help make ends meet. 

Labor Day Parade, New York City, 5 September 1882

Like the protests of today, workers protested, sometimes with violence. On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers made their way to New York City to march from City Hall to Union Square — the first American Labor Day Parade. Eventually labor unions were formed to protect workers from unsafe conditions and their influence caused employers to raise pay and reduce working hours.

Today we still celebrate the American worker on the first Monday in September, thanks to the workers who stood up for fair pay for a decent day’s work, and President Grover Cleveland who signed into law Labor Day as a legal holiday.

As you celebrate this weekend with backyard BBQ’s and picnics, face masks and social distancing, think of the men, women and children whose labor inspired this holiday.

The WOKE Investor

You are likely familiar with the terms “impact investing,” “cause based investing,” “social impact investing,” “socially responsible investing,” and “sustainability investing.” In fact, one of these terms serves as the backbone of the Stewardship Foundation. Nowadays, there’s a new kid on the block — the woke investor.

The Woke investor likes ESG funds for an investment strategy that aligns with personal values, whether those be going green, saving the planet, or protesting for BLM. They want to feel good about improving their financial well-being. 

Woke investors are generally millennials who want their money to go towards making a difference in society and in the world (though, when asked how their money would actually support a good cause, most aren’t sure). 

The Stewardship Foundation is similar in its pursuit of transformational investing, though where we invest may very well be different. We were founded on a set of core beliefs that allow our clients to trust that the decisions we make to grow and protect their wealth are made as though Christ was looking over our shoulder. 

Some investment companies appear to be exchanging the goal of maximizing shareholder value for maximizing societal value, a kind of social justice (source: The Federalist). Does this mean that SF has been way ahead of the curve? Perhaps. Since 2009, we have served only clients who share our Credo.

We faithfully serve clients who also believe…

  • in transformational giving.
  • that giving is a collaborative act between the donor, the charity, and their God.
  • that transformational giving is not about the bottom line, but about the heart.
  • that transformational giving creates partnerships that impact entire communities.
  • in the sanctity of human life, marriage and sexual morality, and religious freedom and the rights of conscience.
  • that it is our responsibility to care for the poor, the sick and the disadvantaged, and to use our talents for the betterment of mankind through education, opportunity and freedom.

Our clients are not WOKE investors. They were never asleep.