Giving in an Election Year

Granted, 2018 is not a General Election year.  As we are all well aware, November 6 is the midterms, and it’s going to be a doozy.  In any other year the midterms would be a sleep walk for incumbents and a minor kerfuffle over ballot initiatives.

But this year is not like any other midterm election.  This is 2018.

So, how might that affect giving to non-political organizations?  I am going out on a limb here, but a 2016 report on charitable giving in a General Election year telegraphs to me that, if anything, charitable contributions will go up.

Blackbaud’s report was based on giving between 2011 and 2012, when American political discourse was considered to be at a fever pitch.

In retrospect, that all seems rather quaint when compared to today.

The political upheaval of 2018 has activated millions of current voters and those who have previously not been involved politics.  While conventional wisdom would dictate that donors would move their giving to political causes, Blackbaud’s data showed the opposite was true: political donors actually gave more to charities in 2012 than they gave in 2011 (.09% more).  Even more germane to today’s climate is that 25-to-34 year-olds increased their giving to charities by 10.8 percent.

The surprises keep coming: Those who identified as ‘non-political’ gave 2.1% less to non-profits in the election year as compared to their 2011 giving.

One of the takeaways posited on the Merkle Response Management Group blog is that “…people who value engagement in one area of civic life are likely to value engagement in other areas.”

Once activated, they stay active and provide robust support to causes they believe in, which is good news for those of us in the business of providing arguably valuable public service.   We should feel energized and hopeful about the prospects for support in 2018.

Now is the time to thank donors for the continued impact they are having on the community, from quality fact-based journalism, to mind-expanding coverage of the arts and music-making, to STEM-strong programs that enrich our children’s lives.

Additional Gifts solicitations (especially from Sustainers) that emphasize the critical impact of your service would be wise in 2018 (see CDP’s Additional Gift Best Practices Checklist).  Your case is strong this year for re-acquiring low-hanging fruit with CDP’s Lapsed Recapture project. And while so many people are converting from being passive onlookers to active participants in society the CDP Acquisition Project should be an option, especially since both of the aforementioned projects require no up-front expenditures by stations.

The Blackbaud Giving In An Election Year report provides data that will finally disabuse us of the notion that a big, hungry machine cannibalizes what was long-considered a finite pool of money that charities and non-profits fought over. There is even a suggestion in the report that General Election years are opportunities to acquire younger donors.

Let us know if you would like more information about CDP’s Lapsed and Acquisition projects, and good luck in this rather unusual election year.

Barry NelsonComment