July 29, 2016
Are donors more cash-strapped during an election year? Survey says…
Now that the national nominating conventions are over for the country’s two largest political parties, many nonprofits are left wondering how the coming general election will shape their own fundraising campaigns.
As each election year passes, more public funds make their way through the campaign financial system, either via political action committees (PACs), filtered through the various political parties, or sent directly to the candidates themselves.
So far, nearly $1.4 billion has been raised by the major presidential candidates, including the super PACs that support them. By the time the general election is over, the total amount raised is expected to be as much as $5 billion.
However, it is important to remember that in 2015, nearly $265 billion was donated to nonprofits by individual donors, over 50 times as much.
So while donors may grow weary of the barrage of fundraising appeals, their overall giving capacity during an election cycle remains more or less the same as any other year.
Since the Great Recession ended in 2009, charitable giving has increased every year
5 tips to help nonprofits grow during an election year
Stay true to your mission. Don’t forget why your nonprofit exists, and will continue to exist even after November 8th. (And let’s face it — fundraising competition will still be there too.) Research indicates that most donors do not cut back on their regular charitable giving to make room for political contributions, so don’t cut back on your fundraising appeals, either. Keep asking and donors will keep giving.
Focus on your base. On a related note, be sure not to neglect your bread-and-butter donors. The truth is, some of your regular donors may opt to shift their funds from your nonprofit to a political candidate or cause. And that is okay! Donors who connect to your mission and your message will keep coming back — even after the election is long over.
Leverage the national attention. This can include exploring ways in which your nonprofit’s goals align with those of the presidential candidates, using their star-power to boost your visibility. If your nonprofit is involved in education initiatives, and one of the candidates makes headlines for mentioning education, by all means, join the conversation, ride the #hashtag wave, and let the spotlight shine on your nonprofit.
Plan around the election schedule. It stands to reason that if the presidential election is held in early November, the month of October will be full of political fundraising door hangers, phone calls, email blitzes, and in-person appeals. Especially if the race looks to be coming down to the wire, you want to ensure that your nonprofit has managed to capitalize on all the fundraising it can before October.
Collect data, analyze results, act accordingly. Presidential elections roll around like clockwork every 4 years, and local elections even more frequently. If your software is built on a unified platform, your nonprofit is advantageously positioned to gather valuable data about how your individual donors behave during an election year. This provides your organization with a unique opportunity to observe donor behaviors and tailor your future appeals to optimize giving in an election year.