Grantmaking in 2021: A Year in Review

Author Eileen R. Heisman, President & CEO

December 15, 2021

Powerful examples of philanthropy in action kept me energized throughout 2021. The last year included a series of challenges on several fronts, but time and again donors answered the call for support and responded with higher levels of giving than ever before.

The challenges at hand seem to be escalating in frequency and complexity. 2021 brought new natural disasters, a heightened level of political acrimony and an abundance of worldwide health, economic and societal challenges related to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The very nature of our instantaneous news cycle is overwhelming at times, but in parallel, it provides the impetus to action. To quote the Dalai Lama, “it is not enough to be compassionate, you must act.”

Our donors’ collective commitment is inspiring. This year, grantmaking dollars from NPT’s donor-advised funds through October 20, 2021 increased 76 percent compared to the previous twelve months, demonstrating that they are acting in response to what they are seeing and what they aspire to change. Our donor’s unrestricted grantmaking increased by 50 percent and nonprofits of all types experienced grantmaking growth. Here are some examples:

  • Our donors increased their grant dollars by 88 percent to Human Services nonprofits, often the frontline organizations in a crisis, compared to the same time last year. One donor recommended a $100,000 grant supporting people with developmental disabilities through high-quality residential programs in California.
  • Arts and Cultural organizations, some of the hardest hit during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic due to dramatic earned revenue drops, saw a 285 percent increase in grant dollars. One donor’s $20,000 grant recommendation supported community orchestra performances and programming in Michigan.
  • Grant dollars to Health service nonprofits increased by 68 percent, including a $25,000 grant supporting a mobile health clinic providing services directly to communities in Illinois.

Grant support for Public and Societal Benefit, Education and the Environment all saw significant increases in grantmaking. Throughout the year, NPT’s donors recommended:

  • A $10,000 grant to support disaster relief, recovery and restoration to individuals and their communities in Texas.
  • A $165,000 grant supporting costs associated with COVID-19 testing for a school in Massachusetts.
  • A $10,000 grant supporting environmental stewardship through science-based education in Washington State.

There is still time to give in 2021 and charities across your community, your state and the country still need help. We encourage you to support the causes you care about this holiday season, and to recommend unrestricted grants. NPT’s contribution deadlines are fast approaching, and we stand ready to assist you. Our Giving Season Central page, which highlights all applicable grantmaking and contribution deadlines. Please take a few minutes to refer to this valuable resource before contributing assets or recommending a grant.

We predict this trend will continue in 2022. New causes, new technology and a new generation of philanthropists are rapidly emerging. Donors appear to be gathering new information and insight on where to focus their energies and how to connect with nonprofits in their own neighborhoods and around the world. I predict this spirit of charitable momentum will grow in the coming months and years.

For 25 years, National Philanthropic Trust has been your partner in giving. We are proud to support your charitable passions and making philanthropy easy for you and your family.

Eileen R. Heisman, ACFRE, is the President and CEO of NPT. She is a nationally recognized expert on charitable and planned giving. Ms. Heisman has been named eight times by NonProfit Times as one of their Power and Influence Top 50, most recently in 2021.

NPT does not provide legal or tax advice. This blog post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be, and shall not be relied upon as, legal or tax advice. The applicability of information contained here may vary depending on individual circumstances.