In times of crisis, people show up for one another, and in 2021 our clients and their people certainly did — through donating, volunteering and taking time to spread Goodness.

In 2021, nearly 1.6 million people raised $2.3 billion on the Benevity platform for more than 200,000 nonprofit organizations around the world. That’s a whole lot of impact!

Let’s take a look at 2021’s top 10 list and overall trends in giving to see what took place.


A Closer Look at the Top 10

A year after the COVID-19 pandemic and racial justice movement caused major shifts in giving and record-setting donation amounts through Benevity (a 63% increase in 2020 compared with 2019), in 2021 our growing community of clients and their people maintained record-high levels of donations for a variety of causes.

In 2021 the top 10 causes were a diverse group, including organizations supporting health, children, civil rights, community impact and more. These causes received $129 million in donations, down from a record $228 million the year prior, when the pandemic and racial justice prompted an outpouring of funds and held many of the top spots.

Half of this year’s list held its top 10 ranking from last year, while the list saw five newcomers or return visitors. The following causes from 2020 held their place in 2021’s top 10: Doctors Without Borders, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Red Cross, Second Harvest of Silicon Valley and American Civil Liberties Union.

Health-focused nonprofits, including national and state cancer societies, Planned Parenthood and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, returned to the top 10 in 2021, while the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Equal Justice Initiative, Thousand Currents, Feeding America and Armenia Fund moved off.

After the pandemic and social justice movements caused major shifts in giving and record-setting donation amounts through Benevity in 2020, Benevity’s clients and their people maintained the same level of donations in 2021 for the causes they care about.

COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Comes Into Sharp Focus

Just as vaccines began to roll out and the world was preparing to “return to normal,” the first half of 2021 saw the COVID-19 crisis in India reach epic proportions — underscoring the need for global vaccine equity. Nonprofits dedicated to supporting India received an influx of donations, pushing them up significantly in the Benevity cause rankings.

Sewa International jumped to #10 from #375 in 2020. Other notable organizations include Give2Asia (#23 vs. #63), Pratham USA (#26 vs. #75) and Goonj (#30 vs. #384). The crisis in India also drove additional giving to UNICEF and was part of the reason the organization’s support almost doubled year over year ($13.5 million vs $7.3 million in 2020).

Supporters Rally Around Anti-Asian Hate Causes

Reports of anti-Asian incidents — from bullying to assaults — have grown exponentially since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Between March 2020 and June 2021, more than 9,000 incidents were reported in the U.S. alone. This marked increase in reported racism was met with a #StopAsianHate movement. And in May 2021, President Joe Biden responded by signing the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.

As accounts of anti-Asian hate began circulating, supporters rallied in solidarity with the Asian community — the Benevity community was among them. This was reflected in our cause rankings, with Asian rights organizations making huge leaps. Chinese for Affirmative Action moved to #34 from around #49,000 in 2020, while Asian Americans Advancing Justice moved from roughly #76,000 to #36.

Empowering Donor-Led Giving

The biggest trend we’ve seen? As tired of the pandemic as people are, they have not tired of supporting causes that matter to them. The sustained $2.3 billion in donations through the Benevity platform from 2020 to 2021 proves that people have not stopped supporting the issues close to their hearts and that companies are committed to becoming more purpose-driven.

“It looks like we are starting to experience a slight ‘return to normal’ in the causes that were supported last year,” said Sona Khosla, Benevity’s Chief Impact Officer. “Despite the change in the top 10 causes, we saw people continuing to leverage the power of their giving in times and places of need in 2021. Since the onset of the pandemic, we have seen a shift in behavior. That is, philanthropy is no longer just for the wealthy trying to change society or corporations trying to be seen as responsible. It’s also becoming entrenched as a way for new generations of purpose-driven individuals and companies to act on what matters.”

Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen trust in government drop, while trust in businesses and nonprofits remains high. As a result, the companies who empower people-led giving — who provide easy access to the causes people care about — are making a difference more now than ever.

And as long as companies and their people ask “What can I do to help?” Benevity will be there — whether it’s by engaging our clients’ customers and employees through donations and volunteer opportunities, managing their community investments and grants programs or measuring their social and business impact on a global scale. Whether the need is urgent or ongoing, local or global, when people have the opportunity to give back in time or funds, their impact is guaranteed to be profound.

Read the press release: Benevity Releases Its Top 10 Charitable Causes Supported by Companies and Their People in 2021