Philanthropy in a Pandemic

Jennifer K. Burns P'19

I read some good news recently.

It was a welcome change, to be honest. Each day, I scroll through the media to see what’s happening locally and around the world, and I tune in at 6:30 pm on the dot to hear the steady voice of Lester Holt as he takes me through the day. As much as I adore Lester, I find my dedication waning—so much of what is out there is tough right now.

The good news? Earlier today, I read an article on the Philanthropy Roundtable—an insider’s look at philanthropy and giving for those of us who think about it all the time—and was stopped in my tracks: Giving Tuesday 2020 shattered records as American donors gave a whopping $2.47 billion on December 1. Despite the pandemic-driven recession earlier this year that has left millions of workers still jobless, the American people responded with an unprecedented level of single-day generosity. 

Once again I was reminded of the incredible tenacity of philanthropy.

In this moment when charities and nonprofits are being asked to do more than ever before and to do it very differently than we’ve done previously, our philanthropic spirit once again kicked in to help ensure that the organizations, and the people we care about, continue to have what they need. Whether it's ensuring that our neighbors have enough to eat, critical species flourish in their habitat, children are protected, or thoughtful works of art continue to be available to all of us, we did our part.  Individuals gave in support of veterans who have protected and served, for research to keep advancing in finding the cure for diseases, and to ensure that others have basic needs like shelter, food, or human connection. Some gave recognizing the integral service that schools provide in the care, support, and development of children and young people, to ensure education continues to have the resources it needs to fulfill an institution’s mission, recognizing the critical importance of school and educators.

Giving Tuesday was a testament to the generosity of Americans. It gives me hope to see the American spirit once again shine through in caring for others, for our community. 

There are so many worthy reasons to give this holiday season. And while we must stay distant for a while as we wait for winter to pass and vaccines to be distributed, there is hope on the horizon. Wouldn’t it be incredible to start 2021 with the good news that 2020 shattered more charitable giving records? To also remember 2020 as a year that saw more individuals make a difference for these charities that do so much for our communities? Every gift matters. Let’s make more good news happen.