Red, White & Charity: Fundraising during election years

The 2016 presidential election is coming up, and whether you are enjoying the debating, political-ranting, opponent-bashing and candidate paraphernalia or not, it’s impossible to escape. The U.S. is completely consumed in politics right now as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton duke it out for the position of President of the United States. The election propaganda has taken over more than just your Facebook and Twitter feeds – it's also affecting charitable giving and fundraising. But not in the way you might think.

Research has found that, despite the massive amount of money that goes into presidential campaigns, charitable giving actually rises on presidential election years. According to CPA Practice Advisor, “Nonprofit organizations whose missions align with key election-year issues (immigration, economy, employment, etc.) have an opportunity to insert themselves into national conversations and gain positive attention by providing a voice of reason and perspective on key issues.”

This is a comfort to many nonprofits, knowing that they don’t necessarily need to ramp up their fundraising efforts during election season in order to compensate for fewer donations. However, there are some fun ways you can fundraise to align with America’s obsession with the upcoming election. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Host a pre-election fundraising event. Decorate in red, white and blue and inspirational quotes about the USA. This can be something as formal as a gala, or as informal as a networking event. Theme it around the upcoming election (without choosing a side, of course) and let the proceeds go toward your organization’s mission.
  2. If you are a nonprofit that caters to youth, hold a student-led campaign or debate. Assign students a party and have them debate just like they would if they were running for office. Open this up to the public to watch for a small admission fee, or ask for a small donation to support your organization.
  3. If your organization’s mission does openly align with a specific party view, an election year is a great time for you to promote your cause. Voters are beginning to do research on party platforms and hone in on what they feel most passionate about. So, if your cause coincides with a party’s platform or a national issue, election season is a good time to bring attention to it as people are looking for ways to advocate for and support the causes they feel strongly about.

Is your organization finding fundraising success during election season so far? We want to know how you're making politics more fun with your fundraising!