As the U.S. gears up for the 2024 presidential election, nonprofit professionals find themselves at the intersection of philanthropy and politics, considering the unique challenges and opportunities that come with fundraising during an election year. In this blog post, we delve into the complexities of setting fundraising goals for 2024, drawing reflections from historical trends, research, and insightful analyses.
Understanding the Current Landscape by Reflecting on the Past
To grasp the potential impact of the upcoming election on philanthropy, let's delve into historical patterns. According to Giving USA data, the influence of presidential elections on overall charitable giving trends is generally limited. Despite fluctuations, charitable giving has increased in eight of the last nine presidential election years, deviating only in 2008 amid the global financial crisis. Notably, the trajectory of charitable giving during election years tends to mirror patterns observed in prior years. Moreover, insights from the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth highlights a significant phenomenon: political giving experiences a spike as a percentage of total giving in the months surrounding presidential elections. This shift contributes to an escalating share of political donations in the overall giving landscape during election seasons. Recent trends also reveal a noteworthy dynamic—political contributions are on the rise, while the percentage of U.S. households donating to charity has witnessed a decline. Understanding these nuances provides a comprehensive historical context, enabling us to establish more informed fundraising goals for 2024.
Setting Realistic Goals
The key to successful fundraising lies in setting goals that are both ambitious and realistic. As we approach 2024, it's imperative to consider external factors such as economic conditions, political uncertainty, and donor behavior. By acknowledging these variables, organizations can establish achievable targets that align with the unique challenges of an election year.
Leveraging the Political Climate
Rather than seeing the heightened political climate as a challenge, savvy fundraisers can leverage it as an advantage. Aligning your cause with current political issues taps into increased public interest, enhancing donor engagement and broadening support. By positioning your organization as a key player in shaping societal narratives, you not only connect emotionally with donors but also attract a wider range of supporters. This strategic approach, backed by historical data, ensures your fundraising appeals resonate effectively during politically charged times, amplifying your organization's impact.
"Rage Giving" Phenomenon
Post-presidential elections often witness a surge in donations, a phenomenon known as “rage giving.” Studies from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute sheds light on this trend, revealing that organizations perceived as politically progressive, experience increased donations during these periods. This insight underscores the importance of tailoring fundraising strategies to align with the prevailing political sentiments.
Case Studies and Advice
The Chronicle of Philanthropy's analysis of contributions to nonprofits based on political ideology offers a deeper understanding of donor behavior. The study explores how donors with different political beliefs allocate their contributions, revealing patterns and preferences that can help nonprofits tailor their fundraising strategies effectively during election years. Additionally, advice from CCS underscores the necessity of sustained fundraising efforts during election years, emphasizing the importance of meticulous research into donors' political giving history.
Classy's report, "Why America Gives 2019," highlights that 46% of donors let their political beliefs guide their giving. After the 2016 election, nonprofits opposing President Trump experienced a surge in donations. This echoes the findings of another report, "Change Agents," showing increased donations to causes associated with progressive or liberal ideals right after the election week. These insights emphasize the impact of politics on donor behavior, providing nonprofits with valuable information to navigate fundraising effectively.
How Nonprofits Can Prepare / Tips for Fundraising in an Election Year
Stay Informed: Stay abreast of leading candidates' platforms and engage with donors to understand their perspectives and concerns.
Mission Focus: Emphasize your organization's mission. During election seasons, clarity and alignment with your cause become even more critical.
Review and Adjust: Take the time to review and adjust your fundraising plans in light of political events and major occurrences.
Avoid Assumptions: Steer clear of assumptions about donor behavior. Actively educate your supporters about election-related issues to foster a deeper connection.
Strategic Timing: Avoid fundraising the week before the election to respect donors' attention spans and emotional bandwidth.
Leverage Election Outcome: Regardless of the winner, use the election results as a strategic opportunity to mobilize supporters. Clearly communicate how the outcome directly impacts your organization's cause, fostering increased engagement and support.
By incorporating these tips into your strategy, you can navigate the unique challenges of election years while strengthening your bond with donors.
In conclusion, the path to successful fundraising in an election year is nuanced and multifaceted. By setting realistic goals, understanding donor behavior in the context of political dynamics, and adapting strategies to the unique landscape of the 2024 election, nonprofits can not only weather the challenges but also seize the opportunities. A well-crafted message, consistent communication, and an unwavering focus on mission will be the cornerstones of successful fundraising endeavors in the upcoming election year.
Additionally, for those who wish to delve further into this crucial topic and gain valuable insights from an industry expert, CEO Alyssa Wright will be hosting a free webinar on January 25, 2024, at 12:00 PM. Join Alyssa as she explores and expands upon the insights shared in this blog post, providing participants with a deeper understanding of donor behavior during an election year. To participate, simply register here for the webinar and be part of this engaging discussion.