As businesses, schools, and churches close their doors to slow the spread of the coronavirus, will charitable giving take a hit?
The Economic Impact Of Going Remote
On March 16, 2020, the U.S. issued guidelines calling for restaurants, bars, food courts, gyms, schools, and other venues where more than 10 people tend to gather together.
While many restaurants have switched to offering drive-through or pickup only, these closures put many jobs at risk.
Millions of employees could be temporarily out of work or working reduced hours.
- 2018: 3.2 million cooks, bartenders, and servers
- 2018: 1.1 million teaching assistants
- 2020: 2.5 million employees in arts, entertainment, and recreation
On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed a $2 trillion dollar stimulus bill that will send checks to most Americans and expand unemployment benefits—but it will take nearly a month for individuals to receive that money.
With so many potentially out of work, nonprofits are preparing for a surge in demand for food, assistance, and other services.
Food banks fall short
- In the U.K., self-isolating has risen and food banks face a shortage of volunteers—many have limited hours and even begin closing down. Food banks face falling donations and supermarket purchase limits—causing their supplies to run low.
- In the U.S., food banks are preparing for a similar situation. Many food banks have switched to a drive thru or mobile distribution model—others are scheduling pickup appointments to reduce crowds.
- The hardest hit regions in the US are already seeing a drop in donations and volunteering.
- Food Lifeline, Seattle gets 83% of food donations from grocery stores, with more shoppers stocking up for themselves, donations have dried up. At the same time, students who relied on school’s free and reduced lunches have brought a surge in demand.
- In the Northeast, social isolation has slowed donations to the area’s blood banks as blood drives have been cancelled. So far, the Red Cross estimates they’ve lost opportunities to collect 8,000 pints of blood—a supply that will be needed despite the current crisis.
Like businesses, churches are using digital to keep in contact.
Coronavirus is reshaping how we do church.
Believers are meeting digitally.
Churchome, a Christian megachurch:
- Closed all Seattle locations
- Saw app sign-ups increase by 60% in one week
- Virtual Sunday service attendance increased by 23%
Lakewood Church, a megachurch in Houston pastored by Joel Osteen:
- Averages 52,000 attendees per week
- Services will broadcast exclusively online, including:
- Free Streaming: Facebook Live & YouTube
- Paid Services: Roku & AppleTV
- More Traditional Methods: The Osteen and Lakewood Church websites & SiriusXM channel 128
Harvest Christian Fellowship, a church in Southern California pastored by Greg Laurie:
- Saw 4X increase in online attendees reaching over 230,000 people
- Had 1,400 people commit online to follow Jesus
Continue giving through digital
Most Americans believe charitable giving has a positive impact.
In 2018, more than 3 in 5 Americans gave to charity— 38% of funds went to religious organizations. More than 1 in 3 American volunteered—36% of those worked with churches or religious groups
Typically, bad news inspires more giving—41% of donors give in response to natural disasters. Religious groups have historically received the largest share of donations—many rely on in-person, cash donations.
During the Great Depression, Christians donated an average 3.3% of their income
- 79% of churches offered online giving.
- 46% offered a mobile app or text-to-give.
Through digital, churches can:
- Banish giving slumps—providing a way to give without being physically present in church
- Make giving more convenient—people can give at any time, using bank transfer or cards
- Stay connected—and keep growing—while people stay home
60% of people are willing to give to their church digitally
How will your congregation continue giving in a global crisis?