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The Truth About Nonprofit Giving During Election Years and What You Can Do to Boost Donations

By April 14, 2020Fundraising
Eleo-Election-Year

“Oh, no! Election year! People are glued to cable news and social media. They’re all fired up! Everyone is donating to political campaigns and our donations are going to drop off a cliff!”

On the surface, this makes sense. As voters become even more passionate and emotional about candidates leading up to a presidential election, it’s natural to assume political campaigns will receive donations while nonprofits are overlooked. And this election year promises to be even more of a rollercoaster than 2016.

Thankfully, in reality, the outcome is quite the contrary. Historically, nonprofit giving actually increases about 1 percent during an election year. Politics tends to bring extra attention to certain issues, and people who contribute to political campaigns are more likely to donate to nonprofits.

These donors have shown they’re willing to take action when they believe strongly enough in a cause. Political season stirs their passions, making them more engaged and more likely to give, whether the nonprofits they support have a political slant or not.

Another interesting fact is that people often respond to election results by giving to causes that they might feel are in trouble because of the candidate that was elected. For example, research from IUPUI Women’s Philanthropy Institute found that giving to progressive charities spiked during the weeks after the 2016 presidential election.

Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), National Immigration Law Center, Planned Parenthood Foundation, and Southern Poverty Law Center benefitted from an increase in donations. When reports about federal budget cuts emerged, Meals on Wheels saw a surge in gifts. Some experts have referred to this as “rage giving.”

The fact is, there’s no need to panic about charitable giving during an election year. Play your cards right and your small nonprofit could very well benefit from election year giving! Here are three suggestions for improving election year fundraising.

Cultivate Those Donor Relationships

If your mission has a connection to the political conversation, give an extra push to building stronger donor relationships. This is no time to hold back! Fine tune your communication strategy to engage with donors more regularly. Politically inclined donors tend to be major donors, so now is the time to build a meaningful dialogue. Even if your nonprofit isn’t the least bit political, ramp up your efforts to stay top-of-mind and shore up support with donors.

Mine Your Data

Eleo Donor Management Software’s integration with DonorSearch allows nonprofits to identify current and prospective donors who have contributed to political campaigns. This data, gathered from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) Political Giving Database, can provide a window into a donor’s wealth, giving capacity, and interests based on their history of political and non-political donations.

Hone Your Message and Focus on Impact

If there’s one thing about politics that frustrates people, it’s the time it takes to get things done. Show the immediate, real-world impact of your nonprofit’s programs and fundraising. Use your donor data to ensure you deliver the right message to the right donor. Not all donors share the same political views, so be careful not to alienate any segment of your donor base. Focus on your mission!

Do you want to learn how to use Eleo Donor Management Software to improve nonprofit fundraising during this election cycle? Contact us to schedule a demo!