Americans Open Their Wallets in Times of Crisis but Have Short Attention Spans

Online giving spiked to new levels during pandemic, but few causes have staying power.

June 15, 2022

New data released by nonprofit online charitable giving platform Network for Good reveals you can count on American generosity in times of crisis. Donations to support people during natural and man-made disasters, both in America and abroad, was consistently one of the most popular online giving categories over the course of the organization's 20-year history, during which it has processed and disbursed more than $4.3 billion in donations to more than 350,000 U.S. charities.

Despite economic and job instability in 2020, charitable donations processed by Network for Good increased by 37.5 percent compared to the previous year. While there was a slight decrease in 2021, online giving by Americans is still 10 percent above pre-pandemic levels, suggesting the tendency towards generosity remains high.

Network for Good is forecasting Americans will continue to give generously in 2022, with donations to support the people of Ukraine via Network for Good partners quickly reaching more than $12M through May of this year.

“Network for Good was founded in 2001 to enable online donations following the 911 attacks, and since then, we've seen Americans consistently answer the call to help others in need,” said Abby Ross, CEO, Network for Good Donor Advised Fund. “People want to help, and we work closely with our corporate and online partners as technology and consumer behavior evolve to continue to make it safe and easy for donors to give to causes they care about.”

In between crisis events, giving to causes that support animals, religious development and the arts have seen growing interest by donors, whereas donations to education and healthcare have decreased in popularity relative to other causes in recent years.

Americans' willingness to help in times of crisis also means their attention may be fleeting as the next emergency unfolds.

  • Online giving to civic and social justice causes more than doubled from 2019 to 2020 in response to the murder of George Floyd, but saw a nearly 50 percent drop the following year.
  • While donations supporting environmental causes have been growing steadily over the years, its share of total giving has declined from 6 percent to 3 percent.
  • Mental health charities have seen increasing awareness over time yet only secure just over 2 percent of overall giving.

While crises and news events can generate large volumes of donations in a very short time, nonprofits and the people they support also have long-term needs that may go unmet once the news cycle has moved on.

“There is a simple way to make your donation go farther. Rather than giving one lump sum, donate smaller amounts throughout the year to allow the charity you choose to more efficiently use those dollars to maximize their impact,” said Ross.

Network for Good provides the following tips to help Americans ensure their donations reach the charities that matter most to them:

  • Consider the source - donate through a trusted platform. Giving to a Donor Advised Fund via a social or corporate platform that works with an organization like Network for Good provides a level of security and safety for your donation.
  • Do your research – make sure the organization is a registered 501(c)(3) charity, or give through a platform, like Network for Good, which does this vetting on your behalf.
  • Maximize impact – give sustained monthly donations versus a lump sum to help your charity of choice better manage their finances and help your dollars go further.
About Network for Good
Network for Good is a 501(c)(3) Donor Advised Fund (DAF) committed to unleashing generosity through online giving. We power causes through an innovative giving platform that securely and efficiently enables people to donate funds to their favorite charities. Since 2001, we have disbursed more than $4.5 billion to over 400,000 unique charities across the United States. For more information, visit

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For questions about the Network for Good Donor Advised Fund, contact Pam Girardo at