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A brief discussion on the implications of fundraising during a presidential election year.

If you’ve turned on a TV or used the Internet in the last 16 months, you’ll know it’s an election year.  And until the United States does something about campaign finance reform, a headline you’ll see over and over is something along the lines of, “Candidate Rovin raises $200 billion in a week!”  Who donates so much to these political campaigns you might ask? It comes from the same people who donate to charities.

Many in the US consider political donations and charitable donations closely related.  Joan Garry recently published an article titled, “Are People Giving to Candidates Instead of Causes?” which raises an interesting question.  Since most of us have a fixed and limited expendable income, are we donating to political campaigns with money that we would otherwise donate to nonprofits?  And does that mean nonprofits are set for a big down year?

Garry interviews a panel of nonprofit experts who bring up some great points.  Here’s the TL;DR version:

Your success has always been based on great donor and partner relationships.  Building these relationships should always be a priority, regardless of the year.

But you already knew that, right?  

The numbers say you really don’t have much to worry about.  GivingUSA just published their annual report on US nonprofit giving.  In 2015, for the fifth year in a row, US charitable giving increased.  That means during the 2010, 2012, and 2014 election years, the average charity saw more donations than the year before.  This year will likely be no different.

The big takeaway is to act like Joe Dirt: keep on keepin’ on.

Keep doing the following:

  • Building key relationships
  • Reminding donors that you’re working to improve their lives and society
  • Asking for feedback and volunteer opportunities
  • Sharing your message and impact metrics

As well, keep NOT doing the following:

  • Making every touchpoint about a donation; there are enough other people calling your donors with their hands out
  • Ignoring the small donors; maybe not the biggest donors today but often the most resilient in down economies
  • Listening to individuals that want to keep you from investing in your infrastructure

And, in the worst case scenario, just remember it’s going to be a good day.