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Did the 2016 Presidential Election Affect Charitable Giving?

Did the 2016 Presidential Election Affect Charitable Giving?After the 2016 presidential election, news outlets reported that donations to charities associated with liberal causes had increased. Pundits termed these contributions “rage giving” and hypothesized they were a direct response to Donald Trump’s victory over Hillary Clinton. Yesterday, the Woman’s Philanthropy Institute published a new report exploring this and other issues related to philanthropy immediately before and after the election.

Charitable Giving Around the 2016 Election: Does Gender Matter? examines donations made through Charity Navigator one week before and one week after election day, November 8, 2016. The analysis asks three questions:

  1. Did charitable giving increase after the election?
  2. What causes benefited most from post-election giving?
  3. Did gender affect post-election giving?

Key Findings

  • Overall charitable giving showed no sign of rage giving.
    Total charitable giving increased the week after the election compared to the week preceding it, but the amounts given were lower than those for the same period in 2015. The report states, “There is no evidence that overall charitable giving increased due to the 2016 ” It further asserts, “‘Rage giving’—or giving above and beyond what would be expected in a non-election year—does not exist, at least for overall charitable giving.”
  • Giving patterns varied by gender.
    Giving by men jumped the day after the election but dropped to pre-election levels the rest of the week. Giving by women, however, increased steadily following the election.
  • Women also gave more than men before and after the election.
    The week before the election, women gave an average of $1,586 more than men. The week after the election, that figure increased to $3,905.
  • Giving the week after the election increased significantly for charities associated with progressive or liberal causes mentioned during the election.
    The report classifies these organizations as “relevant progressive” charities. Examples include e the American Civil Liberties Union, National Immigration Law Center, Planned Parenthood Foundation, and Southern Poverty Law Center.
  • Both men and women gave to these relevant progressive charities.
    BUT …
  • Women gave more to relevant progressive charities than men before and after the election.
    The week before the election, women gave these organizations an average of $184 more than men. The week after the election, the difference grew to $1,098. Women thus played the greater part in the growth in donations to relevant progressive charities.

How Can Your Nonprofit Use This Information?

More research on charitable giving and elections needs to be done to determine if the observations in the report are typical or atypical. From a bird’s-eye view, however, the findings reinforce several traditional fundraising principles:

  • People’s values guide their charitable giving.
    In the case of the 2016 election, political values spurred many donors to give.
  • Fundraisers need to know what motivates their donors.
    It’s all part of telling your organization’s story in a way that strikes a chord with current and potential supporters.
  • Fundraisers need to study the data.
    Have elections—or other types of events—triggered donations to your organization in the past? Who are your donors? Which fundraising efforts have been most successful? What characterizes your least successful campaigns?
  • Gender makes a difference.
    There’s a plethora of research showing that men and women give differently. The Women’s Philanthropy Institute, the publisher of Charitable Giving Around the 2016 Election, is a good place to start exploring this research.

Download your free copy of Charitable Giving Around the 2016 Electionor check out the infographic.

Did the 2016 Presidential Election Affect Charitable Giving?Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar’s editorial director.
Topics: 2016 Presidential Election Rage Giving Gender and Philanthropy Women and Philanthropy
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