How to raise funds in an election year

Terrified about what the upcoming election might do to your fundraising? Don’t be.

Handle things right, and the election will not bulldoze your fundraising results.

Tom Harrison’s column in Fundraising Success magazine has some great tips, at Electoral Dysfunction?:


  1. Beware of the self-fulfilling prophecy. One of the most damaging things elections do to fundraising is they cause fundraisers to pull back in fear, thus raising less money. It’s your own fault if you do that.
  2. Know your audience. Political donors and charitable donors are largely different people.
  3. Choose mail-drop dates wisely. Avoid dropping direct mail in the month or so leading up to the election.
  4. Do not skip a mailing. See #1. Re-arrange drop-dates, but don’t omit any.
  5. Check your formats. Mailboxes will be full of standard #10 packages and oversized postcards. Use different formats to stand apart from the political noise.
  6. Rethink DRTV and radio fundraising. Avoid placing on news networks. Place lightly in the weeks before the election. Go heavy after the election, when broadcasters tend to have a lot of extra inventory.
  7. Optimize your digital spend. Shift more toward search, display ads, and email.
  8. Shift your messaging. If you can, take advantage of the public discourse that surrounds the election — which is mainly about the economy. If your cause or your needs are connected to the state of the economy, talk about that.

Elections don’t take slices of “our” pie. The danger they pose to us is the noise they create. It can make it harder for donors to hear our messages. You can mostly get around that.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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