The national election is a mere week away and, for many fundraisers, it could not come soon enough. “I cannot wait to get beyond this election,” said one donor to a nonprofit with whom we are working. “It is so distracting, and no one seems to be focusing on our needs.”
So does the general election every four years wreak havoc for nonprofits? A quick review of various websites results in this ubiquitous answer: It depends.
According to The Source: Front Range Fundraising, “For the most part, election year fundraising is a temporary and not very significant player in the solicitation scene. Philanthropic giving in the United States accounts for close to $300 billion every year. Political fundraising in an election years adds up to only about $3 billion, a mere one percent of philanthropic donations.”
However, nonprofits in “swing” states like Iowa, Florida, Ohio, and Colorado, where the election is highly contested, are seeing different impacts than we Texans are seeing since we reside in a solidly “red” state. Swing states are seeing media salvos of the likes that have never been seen before. Swing voters are being bombarded with candidate print ads, television spots, radio promo’s, email blitzes, Facebook ads, and on and on.
When I visited my family in northern Illinois earlier this summer, where the closest television station broadcasts from Iowa, I was stunned by the large number of ads from both sides of the aisle. Here in Texas we are seeing but a fraction of what swing state voters are enduring.
So, when YOUR annual fundraising appeal ends up in the mailbox (whether at the curb or on the computer) of one of these swing state donors, it may not get the attention it deserves. Savvy fundraisers may want to wait until November 7 or later to launch your annual appeal and to visit any of your politically active donors for stretch gifts. Your appeal in late November and your personal visit in December will garner much more attention then, whether your donors are in a celebratory mood or in the dumps.
Viosit Bacon Lee at www.baconlee.com.