Lessons for fundraising in our brave new post-election world

by guest blogger George Crankovic, Senior Writer at TrueSense Marketing he blogs at The Clued-in Copywriter.

In the weeks since the election of Donald Trump, charities with missions that are politically progressive have seen historic increases in donor activity.

This is according to the Washington Post, at ACLU, other groups report post-election surge of donations:

  • The ACLU has seen the biggest surge in donations in its history. The charity garnered 120,000 donations totaling more than $7 million in the time after the election.
  • Planned Parenthood has experienced a surge in support. They’ve received 128,000 donations after the election, with at least 20,000 of these donors making direct reference to the vice-president elect.
  • The Sierra Club has gained 9,000 new monthly donors after the election, more than in the 11 months prior.
  • The Anti-Defamation League saw a 50% increase in donations after the election, with some donors making commitments in the six figures.

These are just a few examples. The point here is not the rightness or wrongness of a Trump presidency, but rather the amazing impact of relevance.

Progressive charities like these, by virtue of their missions and their newly updated fundraising messages, are now far more relevant to donors than they were before the election.

On the other hand, conservative causes likely face tougher fundraising in the coming years, because donors are more motivated when their values are under siege than when things are going well.

Here are three ways to be relevant to donors:

  1. Stay aware. Fundraising always takes place against the backdrop of a larger context, never only within the four walls of your charity. As fundraisers, we have to acknowledge the powerful trends in thought and attitude that constantly swell, shift, and recede in our society. The more we can ride these waves, the more relevant we can be to donors.
  2. Be flexible. Along with being aware, it’s vital to be agile and flexible enough in messaging to adapt when necessary. If it takes weeks for directors and board members to okay a change in fundraising, the opportunity may well be lost. In a world of 24-hour media, speed is essential for relevance.
  3. Think values. It’s natural for fundraisers to constantly think “donation.” But it’s more effective to think in terms of aligning with donors’ values. When we can come alongside donors and demonstrate shared values, we can better guide donors to take action. Then our fundraising seems less like selling, and it sidesteps the natural resistance that people feel when they’re being sold something.

With most nonprofits seeing high rates of attrition, it’s obvious that nurturing donors has to be a priority. And while there are a variety of things required to win and keep donors, relevant message certainly has to top the list. Without that, all the data and strategy in the world won’t help.


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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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About the blogger

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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