New Report Finds That More Than $20 Billion Went to COVID-19 Philanthropy in 2020

Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP)released a new report, Philanthropy and COVID-19: Measuring one year of giving, that examines COVID-19-related philanthropic funding in 2020. It is the second of two reports assessing COVID-19 philanthropic data. The first report, released in August 2020, examined COVID-19 philanthropy in the first half of 2020. Today’s report provides updates and looks at the global philanthropic response to COVID-19 for all of 2020.

An unprecedented response to a devastating disaster

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The global philanthropic community was already funding COVID-19 response efforts. After the WHO’s designation, corporations, foundations, public charities, and high-net-worth individuals increased giving that continued throughout the rest of the year.

Candid identified $20.2 billion in global COVID-19 giving by grantmakers and wealthy donors for 2020. Closer examination of the data reveals:

  • Corporate foundations and corporate giving programs accounted for $9.4 billion (44 percent) of total COVID-19 funding in 2020.
  • Community foundations awarded more grants than any other grantmaker type, making up 54 percent of total awards.
  • Funding by independent foundations more than doubled, increasing from $1.7 billion in the first half of the year to $4.7 billion for the entire year.
  • High-net-worth donors accounted for $5.8 billion, more than one-quarter of total philanthropic funding. MacKenzie Scott’s grants accounted for nearly three-quarters of funding from high-net-worth individuals.
  • Human services organizations received the most support, followed by health organizations. In the first half of 2020, health organizations received the most support, followed by public safety organizations.
  • The majority of funding dollars ($13.5 billion, around 63 percent) went to “unknown” recipients or to “multiple” recipients.
Chart: Covid-19 funding by donor type

Promising updates

Funding designated for specific populations provided some encouraging updates, particularly regarding Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities. In the first half of 2020, only 5 percent of COVID-19-related funding that specified recipients was designated for BIPOC communities, despite these populations being disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Since then, available data shows a dramatic increase:

  • 23 percent of specified global funding was explicitly designated for communities of color.
  • 35 percent of specified U.S. funding was designated for BIPOC communities.
  • High-net-worth donors designated the highest proportion of funding for BIPOC communities (44 percent), whereas corporations accounted for only 11 percent of funding designated for BIPOC communities.
Chart: COVID-19 U.S. funding for BIPOC communities

Additionally, 8 percent of funding was directed explicitly for people with disabilities, an increase from 1 percent reported in the first report.

In contrast, funding specified for women and girls increased nominally, from 3 percent in the first half of 2020 to 4 percent for the entire year. Funding directed to immigrants and refugees remained at 2 percent, and funding specified for older adults also remained at 2 percent.

Grace Sato, director of research at Candid, says, “After the first report, there were questions about whether philanthropic funding would taper down. What we see is exactly the opposite—not only did funding stay strong throughout the rest of the year, but we also see promising trends in several categories. It shows that philanthropy can, and is, playing an especially important role in times of crisis.”

Philanthropic support now and in the future

The report shows that there has also been a notable effort to support nonprofits. The first report documented 3 percent of dollars for general support. By the end of 2020, 39 percent of dollars and 21 percent of gifts to specified recipients were described as unrestricted or flexible.

Even so, analysis shows that, the nonprofit sector lost nearly 930,000 jobs since the beginning of the pandemic. Although most organizations are positioned to survive a short recession, a longer one could be devastating. Philanthropy will continue to play an essential role in supporting nonprofits and NGOs so that they’re equipped to provide important resources and services to communities worldwide.

Regine A. Webster, vice president at CDP, says, “Even as we see signs that the U.S. may be turning the corner in this pandemic, recovery from this disaster is a long process that will take years. This is only the beginning. We need philanthropy to continue stepping up in support of nonprofits and NGOs providing vital resources to communities, especially those most affected by COVID-19 globally. We hope this report informs and motivates donors to discover how they can make the greatest impact with their disaster-related giving this year and beyond.”

CDP recommends several ways donors can work toward equitable recovery from COVID-19:

  • Sustain or increase giving and make unrestricted and flexible grants
  • Trust your grant partner and support operational and administrative costs
  • Target funding to communities that are systemically marginalized and disproportionately affected by COVID-19
  • Make grants outside of traditional grantmaking circles
  • Report funding data to Candid and ensure that grant descriptions are clear and explicit

Philanthropy and COVID-19: Measuring one year of giving is available at


About Candid
Every year, millions of nonprofits spend trillions of dollars around the world. Candid finds out where that money comes from, where it goes, and why it matters. Through research, collaboration, and training, Candid connects people who want to change the world to the resources they need to do it. Candid’s data tools on nonprofits, foundations, and grants are the most comprehensive in the world. In 2019, Foundation Center and GuideStar joined forces to become Candid, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Find out more at candid.organd on Twitter @CandidDotOrg.

About the Center for Disaster Philanthropy
The Center for Disaster Philanthropy leverages the power of philanthropy to mobilize a full range of resources that strengthen communities’ ability to withstand disasters and recover equitably when they occur. It provides expert advice and resources while managing domestic and international disaster funds on behalf of corporations, foundations and individuals through targeted, holistic and localized grantmaking. The CDP COVID-19 Response Fund has disbursed $21.8 million to 137 organizations in the U.S. and abroad through January 2021. Find out more at and on Twitter @funds4disaster.

  • Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy