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Philanthropy Rises in Pandemic as Donors Heed the Call for Help


“At the beginning of the pandemic, I did the same thing everyone did: I looked at the stock market and said, ‘Oh, my God,’” she said. “Then I held my nose and said, ‘Forget that — the money isn’t mine anymore. It will do more work out there.’”

She said she expected to give double her usual amount this year to groups focused on crises worldwide. One is the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which has a program in Ethiopia that is doing work she values.

The pandemic has changed how Amanda Millerberg and her husband, Spencer, evaluate charities. Mr. Millerberg sold his data analytics company, One Click Retail, in 2018, and Ms. Millerberg said they had spent the last few years learning what it took to engage in philanthropy on a larger scale.

“I had an aha moment,” said Ms. Millerberg, who lives outside Salt Lake City. “Usually, I’d spend the year researching what I wanted to give to, and then in October, I’d sit down and make all my grants. During the epidemic, I knew my local food bank needed the money now, so I said, ‘Let’s get it out now.’”

She has increased her giving, but worries about what she calls her hobby charities, like the Utah Symphony. “All nonprofits will be struggling,” she said. “Everyone still has a need.”

That reality has kept some donors focused on what they were doing before the pandemic: holding firm to where they were donating. Judy Fireman, who lives with her sister, Janet, in Tucson, Ariz., said they continued to give at the same rate to a local women’s shelter, where they also volunteer to cook.

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