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Monday, October 19, 2020

Donors are looking for tools to help guide their giving in the pandemic.


When the pandemic hit the U.S. in March 2020, nonprofits across the country immediately mobilized to provide support in innumerable ways. Donors realized that donations were needed to support COVID-19 relief efforts, in addition to the charities they were already supporting. Those who were in a position to make additional donations gave generously. 

As a grantmaker, Vanguard Charitable has the privilege of working with donors as they support charities on the current crisis's front lines. Vanguard Charitable’s donors have given in record numbers because they are uniquely positioned to spring into action, with charitable funds already primed for sending. 

Charitable giving in times of crisis and natural disasters 

Giving during a crisis can often feel rushed. Donors see an overwhelming need and want to take action. But granting during these pivotal times should still be done thoughtfully. Some best practices Vanguard Charitable recommends when donating in response to a crisis are: 

  • Consider unrestricted grants. This allows the charity to apply the donation to their greatest need. 

  • Opt-in to a recurring grant schedule to support a charity beyond the immediate crisis period. 

  • Work with a community foundation. They often can react quickly to emergencies and have a pulse on what’s happening locally. Check out this community foundation locator

  • Consult trusted resources. For example, Vanguard Charitable partners with Charity Navigator to provide a vetted list of charities that actively support disaster relief efforts. 

  • Think locally to provide support within your region. Leverage resources like Vanguard Charitable’s new Nonprofit Aid Visualizer,™ detailed below, to identify opportunities to support new charities in your backyard. 


COVID-19 and a complex environment

In early April 2020, Vanguard Charitable surveyed its donors about their giving plans during the pandemic. They found that nearly 79% of donors were interested in receiving access to a resource to help guide their giving to COVID-19 relief in their local communities. The survey results indicated that donors must navigate an immense amount of data and information in the current pandemic as they consider their charitable response. With so many variables to weigh, it can be hard to get a full picture of the giving landscape.


In talking with donors, Vanguard Charitable realized that there were several pieces of data that donors needed help evaluating:

  • Incidence: Donors wanted to know where the COVID-19 incidence rates were higher to support relief efforts in those areas.

  • Vulnerability: Some donors were interested in understanding which communities are at a higher risk of the crisis's effects.

  • Location: Donors interested in supporting their local community were interested in nonprofits operating in those areas. 

  • Cause area: Nonprofits have responded to the crisis in several ways, and donors wanted to understand which charities work in specific cause areas. 


About Vanguard Charitable’s Nonprofit Aid Visualizer™ 

In response, Vanguard Charitable released the Nonprofit Aid Visualizer or NAVi™ in October 2020. NAVi™ combines three powerful data sets to create an innovative, interactive mapping tool designed to help donors locate nonprofits supporting COVID-19 relief efforts. NAVi™ enables donors to locate charities that align with their giving strategies and values and highlight many small nonprofits that may otherwise be difficult to find.


NAVi™ displays data from the Surgo Foundation’s COVID-19 Community Vulnerability Index, Candid’s information on COVID-19 grants and nonprofit organizations, and the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. The tool is available for free to everyone on Vanguard Charitable’s public website. NAVi™ was built to encourage overall giving and provide a resource to help donors identify where their donation is most needed. 


Written by Magda GuillĂ©n Swanson, a research project strategist at  Vanguard Charitable, a leading U.S. nonprofit organization that fulfills its mission to increase philanthropic giving by administering a donor-advised fund—a tax-effective way to consolidate, accrue, and grant assets to charity. Since its founding in 1997, Vanguard Charitable has granted more than $10 billion to nonprofits globally.

For more information about NAVi™, Vanguard Charitable’s newest tool, please visit vanguardcharitable.org/map or visit NAVi™ directly at map.vanguardcharitable.org. For more information on Vanguard Charitable, please visit vanguardcharitable.org.


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