Accuracy in Media

BuzzFeed ran an expose of sorts this week claiming that “rich” people have been a “disappointment” during the pandemic, using their wealth in reckless ways, while the rest of us have been locked down, cowering in fear. 

However, data from the Chronicle of Philanthropy says that charitable giving, including that of major donors, was up in the first half of 2020 by 7.5 percent, despite seeing an initial dip of 6 percent in the first quarter as the pandemic took hold. 

BuzzFeed shared anecdotes, always fringed with jealousy, about the reckless behavior of “the rich” that they solicited from readers.  

One reader, a struggling, recent college grad named Ashley, lost her father, a hospital maintenance worker, to COVID in November.  

“As she struggled with this heavy loss,” writes BuzzFeed, “Ashley watched in frustration as wealthy people from California and the Pacific Northwest bought up property in Wyoming so they could work from home in comfort.”

BuzzFeed continued:

“Ashley also saw her wealthier friends posting vacation photos from Colorado and Hawaii with their masks off. One friend blocked Ashley on social media after she commented about safety in a post showing a group of unmasked people (the friend held a large wedding weeks later).”

And while it is heartbreaking to hear of Ashley’s loss, it’s also sad to read BuzzFeed exploit that loss and turn grief into jealousy amongst their readers in order to generate page views and political rage.  

Buzzfeed also cited trips by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Kim Kardashian “carelessly using their vast resources for their own pleasure,” by traveling and partying during the pandemic, while ignoring such faux pas by Democrat Govs. Gavin Newsom (Calif.) and Gov. J.B. Pritzker (Ill.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.).

In fact, the hard data suggests that people were more generous than ever before during the pandemic — yes, even the rich.  

Mid-level and top-tier donations were up overall for the first six months. 

“The number of mid-level donors who made gifts of $250 to $999, and major donors, who made gifts of $1,000 or more, increased year-over-year by 8.1 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively,” according to the Chronicle.  

But when the pandemic first hit, charitable giving dried up. 

“Throughout March and April, across the charitable sector, nonprofit leaders worried out loud if the health and economic crises that appeared out of the blue would wreck their ability to operate at full capacity – if they could continue to exist at all,” according to Donors Trust, a money management firm specializing in managing non-profit money.

Instead, charitable giving rallied with the overall number of donors increasing by 7.2 percent and the number of new donors increasing by 12.6 percent. 

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