Bypassing the Nonprofit—The Trend Toward Direct Giving
The Covid-19 pandemic has produced a world that could few could imagine even a few months ago. But can you imagine a world without nonprofits?
The Chronicle of Philanthropy notes a trend: giving directly to individuals in need. Alex Daniels writes of this trend in “A Surge in Direct Aid: Giving Cash to the Neediest Becomes Newly Popular with Wealthy Donors and Foundations.”
(This trend raises the question of how much direct giving by individuals isn’t captured in the charitable giving data. For instance, giving $100 cash to a neighbor in need doesn’t qualify as charitable giving. I wonder how many of the individuals who don’t give charitably just don’t give to charitable organizations.)
Daniels points out a handful of efforts like the Together Las Cruces Fund, Workers in Dona County, and Project 100. Each of these were designed to give direct aid to those in need. As Daniels points out, “Donors have created dozens of funds across the country that give people no-strings attached gifts of money rather than supporting nonprofits that provide services to people in need of food, shelter and other assistance.”
At The Signatry this spring, we undertook a similar effort to directly help families in need. As each of these efforts suggest, when there’s an urgent need sometimes a direct gift of cash is the simplest and most effective approach. Put the bandage directly on the wound.
Certainly, some would suggest that this approach lacks the proper measurements and safeguards. On the other hand, the shift to direct grants during this time may suggest a need for nonprofits to develop a similarly nimble approach.
What’s your thought?
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Published July 17, 2020
Topics: Giving Trends
I absolutely think non-profits should have a more nimble option. Perhaps an “immediate need” pool with specific and expedient criteria and an “ER” team intimate with the criteria, designated to act when the need arises. Thus offering reasonable safeguards commensurate with the circumstances.
Thanks for weighing in, Michelle. Good suggestion for implementing a ready-for-action crisis team.
I think perhaps nonprofits need to be more nimble but also show the donors that they are contributing to an individual’s needs. I suspect many small givers give directly to specific people because they feel a deeper connection by supporting an individual as opposed to a pool of needs. Traditionally I’ve seen nonprofits as providing a service or program that I want to support. That’s a different feeling than contributing to a specific person’s immediate needs.
Annette, you make a good distinction between the feeling of giving directly to someone as opposed to supporting an organization providing a service. Some people will naturally gravitate toward one or the other, I think. As you bring up, one reason to support nonprofits is when they can offer a service or program that goes beyond what direct cash aid can accomplish, whether it’s rehabilitation, education, accountability or the like. No doubt cash aid is sometimes the best option in response to immediate needs–the question is what’s most beneficial long term.