More US Professionals Donate to Hunger, Homelessness, Education, and Social and Racial Equity Causes Through the Workplace, Says New Deloitte Survey

Professionals remain generous donors through the pandemic, especially young professionals who enthusiastically support COVID-19 relief efforts through workplace giving
Key takeaways
  • Thirty-seven percent of professionals took advantage of workplace giving programs in 2020, and most said they were motivated by the opportunity to donate to the specific causes they care about.
  • Hunger, homelessness, education, and social and racial equity were causes that more respondents donated to in 2020 compared to 2019, demonstrating how the pandemic and public demand to address racial inequity are impacting donations.
  • Young professionals are emerging as enthusiastic workplace donors and increasing their donations year-over-year more than those in other age groups.

Why this matters

Against the backdrop of the coronavirus outbreak and calls for racial justice over the past year, many U.S. professionals — who by and large choose to give independently — are taking the opportunity to support social causes that are meaningful to them through a workplace giving program, according to a new external survey from Deloitte of more than 1,000 U.S. working professionals who donated in the last year.

Key quote

“While most professionals choose to give through channels outside of work, providing giving opportunities through a workplace giving program can be an important part of the toolset for companies to show their support for workers who want to make an impact that matters. This is particularly true when workplace giving programs reflect the societal causes and commitments their people are looking to support.”

Doug Marshall, managing director, corporate citizenship, Deloitte Services LP

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Donation behaviors and motivators

According to the survey, just 37% of professionals who donated in 2020 leveraged a workplace giving program. Among professionals who did not give through a workplace program, 45% said they were already regular donors to a cause or organization outside of their employer’s program — the No. 1 reason for not using workplace giving programs. Another 17% cited a lack of awareness that such a program existed at their company, demonstrating there may be a need for communication between employers and professionals about workplace giving options available to them.

Professionals say having the opportunity to donate to specific causes and organizations they care about (36%) and donation matching by their employer (22%) would motivate them to donate through a workplace giving program. As for what drives professionals to donate overall, the top two reasons cited are to support a mission that is important to advancing their community and society (57%) and supporting a mission that they or someone they know is personally connected with (51%). To make workplace giving programs more valuable, companies have an opportunity to create programs that align with professionals’ charitable interests and the causes that are most meaningful to them.

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Impact of COVID-19 and top donation causes

During a year where COVID-19 forced millions of Americans out of work along with public demand for racial and social justice, ensuing issues were reflected in donation trends. The top social causes to which professionals donated through a workplace giving program in 2020 were: hunger and homelessness (47%); education (23%); social and racial equity (20%); and specific COVID-19 relief efforts (19%), such as personal protective equipment (PPE), economic recovery, and financial support for essential worker. The percentage of professionals giving to the first three causes was up double digits in comparison to donations these professionals made in 2019, while COVID-19 relief was a new category.

And while the pandemic has led many people to cut back on discretionary spending — according to Deloitte’s real-time “State of the Consumer Tracker” — our workplace giving survey shows that for many it has not impacted their charitable giving. In fact, 74% of respondents who donated through a workplace program donated the same amount or more in 2020 compared to 2019. This number rose to 80% for professionals donating independently.

Gen Z and millennial workplace donors

Nearly 6 in 10 (58%) of young professionals aged 18-34 gave through a workplace program in 2020, compared to only 37% of all professional donors. When asked how the COVID-19 pandemic and its recession impacted their workplace giving, 35% of young professionals said they increased their donations, compared to 28% of all professionals.

Gen Z and millennial professionals supported racial and social equity significantly more than older professionals — with 36% of those aged 18-34 donating to the cause, compared to 12% of professionals aged 55 and above. Additionally, 31% of young professionals gave specifically to COVID-19 relief efforts through workplace giving programs, compared to 19% of professionals overall. Employers have an opportunity to continue engaging these young donors as they move up within their organizations.

The future of giving

“It’s inspiring to see that more young professionals were able to leverage their workplace giving programs to donate to causes including COVID-19 and racial and social equity over the last year,” said Marshall. “Looking ahead, employers have a real opportunity to ensure their workplace giving programs are broad enough to align with professionals’ charitable interests and also flexible enough to help advance important relevant social causes.”

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