Mark Hrywna, The NonProfit Times
Charitable activity rose in the years after a major crisis, even in areas most affected, according to a report that examined three recent crises in the United States.
“Community In Crisis: A Look at How U.S. Charitable Actions and Civic Engagement Change in Times of Crisis,” is a report by Nathan Dietz and Robert Grimm of the Do Good Institute at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy.
The 12-page report examines three recent crises — Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005, and the Great Recession of 2007 to 2009. Charitable behavior can be considered volunteering with an organization, donating to charity or even working with neighbors to fix or improve something in the community and attending public meetings where community issues were discussed.
“Given the dramatic and sudden changes in social life, many observers believe the novel coronavirus pandemic is likely to exert a much larger impact on civic engagement in America than any other event in recent history. Already, observers are drawing contrasts with the Great Recession, which did not seem to have a lasting impact on many charitable and civic trends,” according to the report.
“Like a lot of research reports that have come out recently, this was just driven by the immediacy” of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic crisis, Dietz said during an interview on the latest episode of Fresh Research, a podcast by The NonProfit Times. “We talked about it in mid-March, put something out about what happens with charitable behavior when a big national crisis hits,” said Dietz, associate research scholar at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Policy and a senior researcher at its Do Good Institute. “The scope of this crisis was going to be unlike anything else,” he said of the pandemic, adding that the Great Recession affected the entire country and lasted almost two years.
“We were interested in not just what happened in places where it happened, whether there was a surge in activity — which is what we expected — we were interested in what happens after that; after the crisis drops off the front page of out-of-town newspapers. How long before engagement and civic activities drop back to normal,” Dietz said.