A few weeks ago, a close friend approached me to join in a giving circle supporting families facing financial hardship in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. I accepted the invitation without a second thought. And I was not the only one: In less than 24 hours, a circle of 25 donors from my friend’s personal networks was formed, with monthly giving orders placed to regularly meet the needs of a group of vulnerable families identified by volunteers. No questions were asked, nor concerns raised about how the money would be spent. The first family received assistance the following day.

If I had been solicited to donate directly to individual victims before the pandemic, I would not only have declined, but I would have tried to convince my friend to give to a charity working for the eradication of poverty, in a systematic manner, advocating for policy change or holding government to account for its responsibility to take care of those who are in need of social assistance.

And as someone who has studied and promoted strategic giving and development of organized civil society for more than 15 years, I still strongly believe in the importance of supporting systems change work that attacks root causes of problems rather than treating symptoms of the problems through the acts of benevolence.

However, I am not the only person who has gone far outside of their usual donation path during the pandemic. The pandemic and related lock-down not only gave rise to charitable giving but triggered a different type of generosity compared to other disasters and difficult times in history.

Here are some highlights about how COVID-19 is shifting household giving:

  • Pressing Needs Lifted Up Causes Linked to the Crisis … While Leaving Others Behind
  • Mutual Aid Is Rising
  • Solidarity Is Coming Together With Social Justice Activism
  • More Expansive Forms of Generosity Are Emerging

Read the full article about pandemic giving by Sevda Kilicalp at Stanford Social Innovation Review .