The Data Behind Donations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

by September 24, 2020

In early March, GoFundMe CEO Tim Cadogan wrote in a post that the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic “have tested humanity in ways most of us have never known.” Since then, the public has rallied around each other to provide unceasing support for friends, family members, and even strangers in need — all while navigating the pandemic firsthand.

To better understand the GoFundMe community’s ever-changing response to COVID-19, we are sharing data on pandemic-related fundraisers and donations over a six-month period. Here is what we learned:

Outpouring of global support

Between March 1 and August 31, 2020, the GoFundMe community responded to the widespread impact of the pandemic by raising over $625 million through over 9 million donations for frontline workers, small businesses, causes, organizations, and more.

With over $7.9 million raised, March 26 was the day that saw the highest donation volume.

Evolving and diverse needs

The same period of time saw over 150,000 fundraisers started for COVID-19-related relief.

On March 25, more fundraisers were started than any other day in the past six months, one day following the launch of the Small Business Relief Initiative by GoFundMe and our partners. Over 50% of those fundraisers started were in support of small businesses as the number of states in the US under stay-at-home orders approached 20.

In the United States, here are the states that had the highest number of fundraisers launched per capita:

  1. New York
  2. Washington
  3. Colorado
  4. Oregon
  5. California
  6. Massachusetts
  7. New Jersey
  8. Arizona
  9. Nevada
  10. Vermont

In March, as the pandemic intensified in New York City, Ben Wei launched a GoFundMe to help meet the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) among local frontline healthcare workers. With donations benefiting his nonprofit A Million Masks, nearly 200,000 masks and face shields were delivered to frontline healthcare workers.

Ben’s fundraiser is just one of many reasons why people have launched and supported a GoFundMe throughout the pandemic: from assisting small businesses trying to stay afloat, to buying school supplies for students transitioning to remote learning, to providing relief for individuals struggling to pay monthly bills.

Here is a breakdown of the needs pandemic-related fundraisers addressed between March 1 — August 31, 2020 in the US:

59.6%: small business/unemployment (restaurants, retailers, hourly workers)
19.4%: art / daycare / education (school supplies for remote learning, artist relief)
9%: frontline workers/ PPE (frontline workers, personal protective equipment)
6.9%: food / monetary support (rent relief, food pantries)
3.2%: medical (expenses, disability / convalescence support)
2%: memorial (funeral expenses, family support)

An enduring crisis

Unlike natural disasters such as hurricanes, there was no trackable forecast for the COVID-19 pandemic. The global spread and persistence of the pandemic has created an ongoing need for support. There is no clearly defined end date.

To illustrate this, we mapped the number of donations to pandemic-focused fundraisers. In conjunction, we mapped donation activity prompted by urgent needs in the wake of two devastating natural disasters: Hurricane Harvey and the Australian bushfires.

Snapshot of our community’s impact

How to support

The generosity of our global community has led to an untold number of lifelines being extended to parents and children, communities and small businesses, and causes and nonprofits. With the pandemic far from over, there are a number of ways you can continue to support those in need.

GoFundMe, along with our charitable and nonprofit arm, has created two general funds to make it easier for people to donate to broader causes:

  • The COVID-19 Relief Fund issues microgrants to individuals, organizations, and communities across the globe that have been impacted or are dedicated to helping those affected by the pandemic.
  • The Small Business Relief Fund issues matching grants to qualifying US small businesses that are facing financial hardship.

You can also find and support individual fundraisers on and through centralized hubs that we have established for both general COVID-19 needs and small businesses.