The crisis has spurred more corporate giving, not less, according to Tonika Hirdman, who expects that trend to continue in 2021.
You might have thought that corporate philanthropy would have taken a hit during the covid-19 crisis, as companies tried to carefully manage their cash flows.
But the opposite happened, says Hirdman, director general of the Fondation de Luxembourg, a not-for-profit which advises on charitable giving. While her outfit already worked with many wealthy individuals, in 2020, there was increased “interest from companies in contributing, and that is a bit new for us.” Particularly keen were financial firms, which have fared fairly well during the epidemic and “want to contribute” back to society.
Some of that support was channelled through the Fondation de Luxembourg’s own covid-19 fund, which had raised and distributed €1.4m by mid-November, and some was granted directly. The money mostly went to social aid programmes (such as helping the homeless and isolated elderly) and non-vaccine research projects (such as data modelling and materials analysis).
In 2021, Hirdman expects “more focus on the health sector and research, and we might see more focus on the climate change and environment areas.” Existing donors have mainly maintained support levels, despite endowments taking financial hits. In many cases, donors “increased support”, with Hirdman seeing “actual distributions higher” in 2020 than in 2019.
“I expect that’s a trend that will continue” in 2021. She also anticipates more family foundations will be established, as the pandemic has prompted many people to consider “their legacy” and “how they can contribute after their own lifetime.”
Was the spike in corporate donations a one-off? “For some, yes. For some others, it was a start, and they saw it was working well and it was also applauded by their staff. They are seeing the crisis is continuing and that it’s the time to renew their efforts.”
This article was originally published in Delano’s January 2021 edition. Be the first to read the magazine by subscribing for home or office delivery here.