Volunteering during COVID-19 -- a shift in activity -- from Fidelity Charitable

Volunteering During COVID-19, Fidelity Charitable

Our client Fidelity Charitable recently released the results of our nationwide survey among donors about volunteering during COVID-19. The study found that two-in-three volunteers decreased or stopped contributing time due to the pandemic. This could have stark implications for nonprofits that historically rely on volunteers during the busy holiday season.

Key takeaways include the following:

  • Of those who continued to volunteer, two-in-three turned to virtual or remote opportunities, compared to 81 percent of people who volunteered in-person before the pandemic.
  • Sixty-four percent of those who hadn’t tried virtual or remote volunteer activities weren’t sure how to find them. This finding suggests that nonprofits should be proactive about informing their supporters of ways they can continue to safely offer help, as they adapt their volunteer programs.
  • The decrease in volunteerism may be temporary, with nearly three-quarters of donors saying they plan to return to pre-pandemic volunteerism levels when it is safe to do so.
  • Before the pandemic forced many to curtail their volunteer activities, nearly two-thirds of financial donors recently volunteered their time to a charitable cause. Most donors offer financial support first, but four-in-ten are more likely to donate their time before committing their charitable dollars.
  • One-in-three Millennials said they give more to the nonprofit they volunteer with than they would if they didn’t volunteer—compared to less than a quarter of Gen X and only 12 percent of Baby Boomers.

For this study, we surveyed 1,842 adults in the U.S. who donated at least $1,000 to charity in 2019, in March 2020. Later, in August 2020, we conducted a survey among 491 Fidelity Charitable donors about how volunteerism was impacted by COVID-19.

Want to learn more about this volunteering during COVID-19 and how the pandemic has impacted volunteerism? Read the press release here, the report overview here, and download the full PDF report here. For more context: Check out the results of another study we did for Fidelity Charitable earlier this year amongst philanthropists to see how they were thinking about their giving and volunteering behaviors in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in its early days.