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Five Tips for Fundraising in an Election Year

I have to make a confession to you.

For several years, I worked the full spectrum of political campaigns and at all levels, from intern to manager. It’s where I learned my fundraising and volunteer-management chops before heading into higher education development, which led to my career at Rescigno’s.

That’s right; I’m a recovering political campaign critter.

So, you can imagine my thoughts each time when several of our clients recently asked us how we thought the 2024 election cycle might impact their fundraising.

But it’s a reasonable question. And it’s one you and your staff or boards may be concerned about as well.

With that in mind, in this two-part series, we offer a few recommendations from our staff to yours on fundraising in an election year:

1.) Don’t Panic.

…And certainly don’t believe it’s a foregone conclusion that your fundraising efforts will suffer. In fact, experience from previous Presidential election years says otherwise. Data from Giving USA reveal that, even after adjusting for inflation, charitable giving increased in each of the last ten Presidential election years except for 2008, the beginning of the Great Recession.

In 2020, approximately 1.8 percent of the United States’ adult population gave $200 or more (amounts lower than $200 are not required to be itemized in campaign finance reporting) to a political committee. Now compare that with the consensus that at least 60 percent of Americans give to charity in a given year. Your major donors aren’t a concern here, either; only two-tenths of a percent of American adults make political contributions totaling $2,800.

When you combine charitable giving and political giving, political giving constitutes an extremely small slice of the pie. Organizations that spend much time worrying about how an election cycle will hurt their fundraising efforts are organizations that risk falling behind because they made mountains out of molehills.

2.) Research your prospects.

You should be doing this anyway! But, did you know that people are more likely to give to political campaigns if they:

· Are older?

· Have higher levels of education?

· Have higher post-tax income?

· Are male?

· Do not have children under age 18 living in the household?

· Live in the Midwest or West?

Just as it’s a good idea to know what your “typical” donor looks like, it is beneficial to know what the “typical” political donor looks like as you prepare for meetings with your donors and prospects.

Check back soon for part two of our suggestions on how to maximize your fundraising efforts during an election year, or reach out to us directly at (708) 974-2600, or e-mail

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