Giving in the time of COVID-19

Philanthropists say now is the time to make a difference


July 14, 2020

By Kristine Carl, Senior Team Manager, Communications

Nearly 11 million COVID-19 cases have been confirmed worldwide.* More than 40 million unemployment claims have been filed by Americans since the onset of the crisis.  And marginalized populations who live with poverty, health inequities, food insecurity, and other burdens have been hit hard by the economic disruptions implemented to slow the spread of the virus. It’s clear the pandemic is more than a health issue; it is also having serious social and economic implications. With non-profits stretched thin to support impacted communities, what can we do?

“The need within our country and around the world is greater than ever,” said Dave D., who manages his charitable giving through Schwab Charitable, an independent public charity created in 1999 to help individual donors more effectively meet their charitable giving goals through a donor-advised fund (DAF) account. “And with the disruption to the economy, philanthropy is more important than ever.”

Philanthropists are responding to the COVID-19 crisis generously and thoughtfully. They are also responding in ways that reflect their values and principles. From Dave D.’s perspective, helping someone eat takes priority over giving to local organizations that do not impact core survival systems. “Quite a number of people who were living on the edge have now fallen,” he says. “Basic needs have dramatically increased, so to help provide some relief we are giving more to our local food bank, church food pantry, and homeless shelters.”

Charitable giving in a time of economic uncertainty may feel risky or even counter-intuitive to those who feel the safest thing to do is hunker down and save their money. Instead, some charities are seeing record-breaking giving from private donors like Dave D.

Laughton quote

“The spirit of helping others has always been part of the fabric that binds our nation together. Philanthropy has taken on additional importance in this time of crisis as we witness the critical role of the charitable sector in COVID-19 relief and also see other worthy nonprofits fight for survival.”

Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable

Kim Laughton, president of Schwab Charitable

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Schwab Charitable has reported truly inspiring generosity from its donors. Grant volume in the first six months of the year increased 44 percent over the same period last year, with $1.7 billion given to charities. Of that, more than 25,000 grants and $145 million were specifically earmarked for COVID-19.

Another Schwab Charitable donor, Linda L., explains that giving during a time of financial crisis is easy with a donor-advised fund. “Once you set up the fund, it’s not really your money anymore. It has to be donated to someone somewhere.” Garry S. agrees, saying “the biggest thing for us is the reminder that we gave away the money to the DAF over the years and while it shows up as an account with a balance that creates a pseudo picture of our wealth, all that money is not ours. We just advise Schwab Charitable where we’d like to see it go.”

Wondering how best to direct your giving to COVID-19 relief efforts and if a DAF is right for you? Consider this: with a DAF you can achieve maximum impact on charities most important to you. Here’s how it works:

A Schwab Charitable DAF is a simple, tax-smart solution for charitable giving. Once an account is set up, you contribute cash, appreciated securities, stocks, or non-cash assets like restricted stock, privately held business interests or real estate. You receive immediate tax benefits by becoming eligible for a current-year tax deduction and by potentially eliminating capital gains tax, leaving up to 20% more available for charity. You may invest the assets for potential tax-free growth and can advise how the funds should be allocated, all while having the flexibility to recommend grants to charities of your choice at any time. Schwab Charitable handles all the details: verifying the charities, generating personalized grant letters, mailing the checks, keeping track of all your contributions and grants online, and compiling an annual report for you at tax time.

Visit Schwab Charitable’s COVID-19 resource page to gain guidance on how best to approach COVID-19 relief giving and to read related articles and blogs, access webinars, and search for charities. For more information on setting up a donor-advised fund account, visit the Schwab Charitable website.



*As of July 2020

Schwab Charitable is the name used for the combined programs and services of Schwab Charitable Fund™, an independent nonprofit organization, which has entered into service agreements with certain affiliates of The Charles Schwab Corporation. Schwab Charitable Fund is recognized as a tax-exempt public charity as described in Sections 501(c)(3), 509(a)(1), and 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the Internal Revenue Code. Contributions made to Schwab Charitable Fund are considered an irrevocable gift and are not refundable. Please be aware that Schwab Charitable has exclusive legal control over the assets you have contributed.

A donor's ability to claim itemized deductions is subject to a variety of limitations depending on the donor's specific tax situation. Consult your tax advisor for more information.

Although every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is correct, Schwab Charitable cannot guarantee its accuracy. This information is not provided to the IRS.