Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the First Half of 2020

Candid and Center for Disaster Philanthropy


On the last day of 2019, China advised the World Health Organization (WHO) that some people in the city of Wuhan in Hubei province were infected with an unknown strain of viral pneumonia. On January 7, 2020, Chinese officials announced that they had identified a new virus belonging to the coronavirus family. Since then, the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has spread across the globe, infecting millions of people and killing hundreds of thousands.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has created a global health and economic crisis that is testing regions around the world. In response, foundations, corporations, and individuals have been distributing funds to nonprofits to help communities cope with these unprecedented challenges. Candid has been closely tracking the global private philanthropic response to COVID-19 through news stories and other publicly available resources as well as from funders who have reported disbursements directly to Candid.

In this report, Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy look at the philanthropic dollars that were distributed for COVID-19 in the first half of 2020. Although not a complete picture of the global philanthropic response, due to the ever-changing response to the pandemic, the report offers some insight into funding flows seen thus far. Some key findings:

  • In the first half of the year, we identified more than $11.9 billion awarded for COVID-19 globally
  • Corporations accounted for nearly two-thirds of funding
  • Community foundations awarded more grants than any other grantmaker type (49 percent of total awards)
  • Gifts by high-net-worth individuals accounted for at least $1.6 billion
  • A combined $452.9 million was donated to COVID-19 response through the donor-advised funds of Fidelity Charitable, Schwab Charitable, and Vanguard Charitable.
  • Proportionately little institutional funding was explicitly designated for specific populations and vulnerable communities

Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy plan to release a follow-up research brief in February 2021.