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Navigating the Political Storm: Crafting Resilient Fundraising Strategies for an Election Year

The 2024 presidential election has been dominating the news cycle for months now. As fundraisers, it’s easy to also let the election dominate your fundraising efforts — often in a negative way.

Miss your goal this quarter? Seeing a dip in donors? Blame election giving.  

When it comes down to it, this is just another year. And while you don’t want to ignore the election, you shouldn’t hyper-focus on it either. Instead, as you plan out your fundraising campaigns for the weeks and months ahead, now is the perfect time to get back to the basics.

Let’s look at what you can expect as we near election day. We’ll also outline some ways you can use the election to connect more deeply with your constituents. 


How Elections Impact Fundraising 

It’s a common misconception that elections take fundraising dollars away from nonprofits. In fact, political fundraising is like disaster relief. Donors will add a political donation to their overall philanthropic giving; they won’t replace a gift to your organization.

Political campaigns might raise $20 billion at most, whereas nonprofits raise closer to $500 billion at least. So, you don’t have to worry about political causes overshadowing your requests for giving. But you may need to think differently about the timing of your campaigns.

For instance, governments tend to act less decisively in a presidential election year. You’re unlikely to see major legislation or landscape-shifting Supreme Court decisions such as Roe vs. Wade. That means if you tie fundraising appeals to Congressional action, you may want to rethink your strategy until the election is over.

The economy usually stays stable in an election year as well. After all, neither political party wants to see too much disruption. 


Changes in Advertising Policies

One important effect of political fundraising to note is its impact on advertising policies, particularly on social media platforms. During an election year, companies like Meta tend to tighten restrictions around ad copy and imagery to combat misinformation. This means the ads you produce will be scrutinized much more heavily than in a non-election year.

Read up on policy changes and build in extra time for your ads to be reviewed and approved. Also, be prepared to pay more for those ads. Political fundraisers and advertisers entering the market will boost competition for views and engagement. And because sites like Facebook want to keep a balance of ads and organic content, you’ll see the price of advertising increase as well. 


Strategies to Navigate Election-Year Fundraising 

As the year unfolds and the election nears, it’s wise to keep an eye on what topics make the news. But in general, stick to the fundamentals. Lean on your mission, stay relevant, and send timely and personalized outreach to your constituents.

Much of how you navigate this year will come down to the cause you serve. For instance, if you provide relief to immigrants, you can expect immigration to be a hot topic in a presidential race. So, you may want to have a campaign prepped to send following a candidate debate.

More than anything, fundraising in an election year is about being prepared. Talk with your team about what issues might arise in the news. How can you position your organization as a neutral expert on that issue for media purposes?

Then, how might these issues be impacted post-election? Anticipate where the opportunity will be to start conversations with your constituents. “Rage giving” was certainly a trend following the 2016 election based on expected policy changes. Think about how you can take advantage of the emotions people will be feeling when all the votes are counted.

An election will have two possible outcomes. Know how each one stands to affect your mission and let that guide the campaigns you develop. 


Use Data to Learn Where Your Constituents Stand 

A word of caution, here: Don’t assume you know how your constituents feel politically. People support your mission for a wide variety of reasons. If you send a message that congratulates the winning candidate, you risk alienating all those donors and volunteers who supported the losing side.

Use data to learn where your constituents stand. For instance, GivingDNA uses third-party data to tell you the political makeup of your donor base. This enables you to send them relevant communication.

Data can also help you uncover what issues affect your constituents, which is especially important in state and local elections. How old your donors are, where they live and work, what other causes they support — all these data points are opportunities for you to connect with your audience on a deeper level. 


Bottom Line: Keep It Simple 

Don’t fall for the election year hype. Political fundraisers aren’t going to steal your donors or their dollars. To navigate fundraising in a presidential election year, remember three things:

  1. Learn Your Constituency: Use data to know who you’re talking to and what they care about.
  2. Be Prepared: Think about how hot topics in the news cycle might impact your fundraising opportunities or create marketing challenges.
  3. Be Respectful: Not all your constituents will be happy with the election’s outcome.

If you need help with an election year fundraising strategy, our team at Allegiance Group + Pursuant is here to support you. We can help you develop multiple campaigns based on trending issues and election results. Through tools like GivingDNA, our analysts will dig into your data to ensure you know what your donors care about. Get in touch with us today.


This blog is based on a recent episode of Fundraising Today and the Go Beyond Fundraising podcast. Listen to the full episode now.