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Generosity in Times of Crisis: Swedish Helping Behaviours During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Centre for Civil Society Research. Ersta Sköndal Bräcke University College, Department of Social Sciences.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1453-6186
2021 (English)Report (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown the world into a health crisis that has had devastating effects on the global economy and public life in many countries. Little is known about how people have responded to two competing pressures caused by the crisis in many countries: increased community need coupled with decreased financial capacity to help others. We surveyed 1149 Swedes in late October and early November 2020 to understand how their generosity behaviours manifested and changed during the COVID-19 pandemic. By generosity we mean all forms of behaviour that people engage in with the intention of benefiting others (including people, animals, and environments).

Two key findings emerged:

1. Several new generosity behaviours emerged in response to the pandemic, including helping a friend in need and helping with everyday tasks.

2. The pandemic had a relatively limited effect on the more traditional expressions of generosity behaviour.

Managerial implications. Nonprofits may wish to:

• Consider that the generosity behaviour of volunteers and donors may be less affected by the crisis than their organisation is, so it may pay off to continue to reach out to them.

• Notice that the single most common reason for not practicing any generosity behaviour is not being offered an opportunity. Therefore, ensure there are opportunities to engage people.

• At the same time, also be careful to not to engage with more new volunteers or donors than can be handled, as people’s generosity might erode if they are not included or appreciated enough.

• Consider that strict restrictions may limit opportunities to practice generosity behaviours, particularly in relation to volunteering. Create new ways for people to contribute or volunteer, such as online.

Policy implications. Governments and peak bodies may wish to:

• Realise that government policies may not be supported by growing generosity among the public, and are therefore needed in times of crisis. However also remember that Swedes may continue the similar levels of generosity compared with pre-pandemic levels.

• Recognise that the cost of wage subsidies and other crisis related financial supports could be a good investment, since the basic safety it provides promotes trust and generosity.

• Remember that claims about the positive effects of high generalised trust and volunteerism should be viewed cautiously in a time of crisis. Swedes did follow voluntary health advice such as social distancing, but not as much as other countries with similar regulations.

• Consider that light restrictions may signal a lack of emergency – and this may lead people to carry on as usual with their generosity behaviours. 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Global Generosity Research , 2021. , p. 20
Series
Global Generosity in Times of Crisis
National Category
Political Science
Research subject
The Individual in the Welfare Society, Social Welfare and the Civil Society
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:esh:diva-9262OAI: oai:DiVA.org:esh-9262DiVA, id: diva2:1613621
Available from: 2021-11-23 Created: 2021-11-23 Last updated: 2023-07-04Bibliographically approved

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Vamstad, Johan

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