Every four years, when the national election comes around, all of us fundraising professionals start to worry. We all worry that the national election is going to adversely impact our fundraising efforts because our donors and potential donors will make donations to political campaigns. We start pouring over historical results. We start having conversations with different media outlets about the strategies on how to best buy media around election time. Once we do our research, we start to remember that we went through this exercise prior to the last national election and found out that elections do not adversely impact our campaigns. On the contrary, they help our fundraising efforts. A recent Blackbaud study provided some answers as it compared giving trends in the last presidential election in 2012 versus 2011.
Our key takeaways…
• Donors who gave to federal political campaigns in 2012, gave 0.9% more to charitable organizations that same year as they had in 2011;
• Donors who did not give to political campaigns that year reduced their giving by 2.1%
• The 400,000 political donors studied were found to be charitable, giving $800 million in political donations in 2012, and also donating more to their supported charities
• There was a 10.8% increase in charitable giving among political donors aged 25 to 34.
• Giving to advocacy groups (classified in the Public, Society Benefit and Environmental sectors by Blackbaud) saw their giving increase the most while giving to International Affairs, Healthcare and Human Services decreased.
Although it is true that inventory on radio, television, and certain websites — as well as out of home media — becomes very tight or nonexistent right before Election Day, once the election frenzy is over, life goes back to normal. Normal means our donors and potential donors continue to give to their favorite causes. It seems elections, no matter how hotly contested, are not like disasters, which adversely impact many nonprofits who don’t provide direct relief. As long as we stay out of all the hype, our results should not suffer.