Donors give to virus aid, social justice in 2020

As the U.S. grappled with COVID-19, a recession and a racial reckoning, the ultra-wealthy gave to a broader set of causes than ever before, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy's annual rankings of the 50 Americans who gave the most to charity. (Feb. 9)

Video Transcript

- How are you guys?

- Don't shoot!

- Hands up!

- Don't shoot!

- Hands up!

- Don't shoot!

- Hands up!

- Don't shoot!

- We have a right to peacefully protest. Do you believe in peace?

- Yeah!

[APPLAUSE]

- Do you believe in justice?

- Yeah!

[APPLAUSE]

NICHOLAS TEDESCO: The philanthropic sector has been growing and evolving for quite some time. Historically, donors have not felt the pinch of time to put their dollars to work. But in 2020, there was an acknowledgment that time was absolutely of the essence. In many ways, donors were called to action in March, and many responded without hesitation.

And what we witnessed from the response is something absolutely incredible. It's a shedding of old habits, these patterns of well-worn behavior that have historically not served the world. This is a direct result of observing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and witnessing the racial-justice movement.

- Say his name!

- George Floyd!

NICHOLAS TEDESCO: For the first time, perhaps ever, many donors are starting to acknowledge that equity is an important lens that they need to view their work through. The question now is whether philanthropists will continue to carry forward these enlightened practices, particularly when the immediacy of the moment feels less intense.

SAM COBB: What has happened during the pandemic, especially around homelessness, is that people have seen our interconnectedness. They've all stepped up in a huge way. And so I know we've seen the massive gifts from the MacKenzie Scotts and Jeff Bezos and even Charles Schwab.

LAURA ARNOLD: Flaws in the system have been accentuated by the pandemic. The reckoning and discussions on racial justice have forced, I think, all of us in philanthropy and in government to think about what we can do to make that implicit commitment more explicit.

- Jacob Blake!

- Say his name.

- Jacob Blake!