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The Impact of the Election on Nonprofit Fundraising

By: Stacey Segal, Vice President

As we inch closer to the election of a new US President few things are certain.

What we do know is that constituents have been inundated with advertisements and donation requests. Even I, having worked in the nonprofit industry for over 20 years, hit my limit this week.

As fundraisers, it's important to remember that donor fatigue is real, and asking for money during this election cycle - and for some period thereafter - has been and will be tough.

How can you prepare and react to the upcoming election? Be sure that you track all of your communications in your database of record. Rouge ghost databases that just one small team uses for communication and never sends back to your database is a no-no - now more than ever. If different teams or departments are sending out multiple communications at the same time, coming up with a common schedule or calendar is extremely important.

Think about creative ways to fundraise during this time and prepare your messaging accordingly. I sit on the Board of Animals Asia, an international organization with the mission of ending Bear Bile Farming amongst other things. Usually talking about the horrible conditions animals are kept in and what happens to them is enough to convince someone to make a donation. The fundraising team decided to focus on a campaign about kindness instead of highlighting the sad nature of what happens to animals around Asia when they're used for profit. "The Only Cure Is Kindness" campaign spoke to donors at a time when the news focused on the pandemic and other negative news from around the globe.

By tracking data you can identify what donors are responding to, and what they're not responding to and adjust your messaging as needed.

I was speaking with a customer who reminded me that, politics aside, a large percentage of the population will be disappointed with the election outcome. Some people may not be motivated to respond to appeals right away. Others might be motivated to donate to organizations they may not normally support. We've seen this happen after previous elections but 2020 will surely be different because of the pandemic and other influencing factors.

As you prepare for end of year giving, take your constituents communications preferences into account. Consider the best method of communication - I hit delete on most emails these days because I'm so inundated, but I tend to look at mail more since we're all at home more. In fact, Direct Mail (snail mail that is) has been on the rise for the last few years and many large organizations that we work with are seeing very good results from that channel this year so far.

No matter what we know, or don't know, make sure you have a plan in place to manage your communications over the next few weeks.


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