December 28, 2022

A Year of Challenges and Generosity: 2022 in Grantmaking

Author Jenna Mulhall-Brereton, Chief Philanthropic Solutions Officer

The end of the year provides us with an opportunity to reflect on joys and progress as well as challenges. In 2022, we witnessed the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, a humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, destructive natural disasters, as well as political and economic turmoil. But these challenges have also provided us with glimmers of hope and resilience. We saw food pantries ensuring families have their next meal, refugees welcomed into homes and emergency responders lending aid and comfort amid dangerous conditions. At the center of so much of this work is philanthropy—donors and nonprofits coming together. Nonprofit organizations working on the ground have been tested, but their critical role has never been more apparent.

That is why this work continues to make me optimistic. When I look back at 2022, I see the social sector dealing with significant demands and stretched resources—but I also see generous and creative charitable responses to every challenge. Below, we’ve reflected on some giving highlights from 2022, including new grantmaking strategies and approaches our donors will bring into the new year.

The Challenges

NPT’s donors commit tens of thousands of grants to charities and causes around the world each year. Here are a few issues that attracted donor attention and support in 2022.


There were still plenty of opportunities for donors to make a difference in the fight against COVID-19 in 2022. Cases slowed in the U.S., but coronavirus remained a health emergency in lower-income countries lacking in public health infrastructure. The equitable distribution of vaccines remains important, especially as the worldwide COVAX program, which was established to distribute vaccines in low-income countries, will phase out in a year’s time. Over the summer, we highlighted opportunities for donors to support the development of cold chain supply infrastructure, serving rural or remote populations, and other ways to offer relief from the social and economic costs of the pandemic.

Humanitarian Crisis in Ukraine

The Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 has transformed into a devastating war of attrition. Over the course of the year, donors have continuously provided support for humanitarian relief in the region. In early March, NPT compiled a list of organizations working to provide aid to Ukrainians during the war. By the end of the month, NPT donors had committed at least $47 million to Ukraine-specific relief. Today, organizations like HIAS, Nova Ukraine and many others continue to work tirelessly to support Ukrainians as the war continues into its second year.

Education Adapts

In 2022, students, parents and teachers dealt with the aftereffects of a never-before-seen disruption to education. Organizations like the nonprofit news outlet Chalkbeat chronicled the American education system closely, and donors continued to support scholarships, organizations funding veterans’ education, remote learning programs at public libraries and more.

Inflation and Other Economic Factors

The economic aftershocks of the pandemic have included historic inflation in the U.S. and elsewhere. Nonprofits continue to feel the pinch of rising prices, but donors can help by giving with inflation in mind. NPT provided insights on how inflation impacts nonprofits for donors seeking to increase and enhance their charitable giving, especially to smaller and local nonprofits more susceptible to price increases.

Climate and Natural Disasters

Damaging storms, wildfires, droughts and heatwaves underscored the immediate impact of climate change this past year, and motivated donors to support relief efforts. Many donors have also begun to think longer-term about their giving in response to natural disasters and are giving to climate change resilience efforts in addition to immediate relief.

New Approaches

Despite a year of continued challenges, donors met 2022 with generosity and new approaches to their giving. Here are a few philanthropic strategies that stood out to NPT’s philanthropic experts.

Trust-Based Philanthropy: A Primer for Donors

Trust-based philanthropy is meant to make charitable giving more democratic, inclusive and impactful, giving grantees more autonomy and an equal stake in the relationship. While the approach is not new, it is finally entering the philanthropic mainstream; more and more donors are integrating trust-based practices into their giving. This primer serves as an introduction to the fundamental elements of trust-based giving, including unrestricted, general operating grantmaking and donor transparency.

Direct Cash Giving and Universal Basic Income: A Primer for Donors

Direct cash transfers and basic income are increasingly popular philanthropic approaches that provide recurring payments directly to low-income families and individuals. NPT created a primer for donors interested in the approach, including research findings and domestic and international direct cash giving opportunities.

The Value of Recurring Donations

One of the simplest things donors can do to help their favorite organizations is create a reliable and regular grantmaking schedule. Big, newsworthy events and crises often generate surges in donations, but recurring, sustained grantmaking provides nonprofits with the stability and flexibility they need to flourish. See this blog post for more context on the value of recurring grants for nonprofits and donors alike.

“Next Gen” Donors are Here Now

“Next Gen” philanthropists continue to attract a lot of discussion—but it’s time to acknowledge that this “next generation” has already arrived. Millennials and their younger counterparts in Gen Z now hold major roles in government, business and the social sector. Many have families and careers and are entering their prime earning—and giving—years. We assembled some recent data on next-gen donors to better understand the priorities of this emerging cohort of philanthropists.

The coming year will assuredly bring its share of unforeseen events. I believe donors will continue to seek out—and be grateful for—opportunities to support the work of nonprofit organizations that are responding to great needs. I’m fortunate to work every day with nonprofit professionals, donors and other stakeholders who are working to solve problems new and old through strategic grantmaking, partnerships and other charitable efforts.

For donors interested in finding new approaches to their giving, thinking through their philanthropic strategy or learning about new best practices in philanthropy, NPT remains ready to help you help others. Contact us at (888) 878-7900 or with any questions.

About the Author

Jenna Mulhall-Brereton is NPT’s Chief Philanthropic Solutions Officer. She leads the team providing customized services to enable NPT’s donors to develop and execute their philanthropic vision.