Fundraising During a Presidential Election Year

Date Published
Bill Blinstrub

Did you know that 2020 is a presidential election year? Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, this may be easily forgotten. Most of us are just trying to stay healthy and are taking it day by day while we navigate this moment in time.

Some of us may not know how we are going to vote come November, but for most of us one thing is certain — we will vote in the presidential election. And that means presidential candidates and special-interest groups are already ramping up their fundraising in a very significant way.

If 2016 is any indication, YOUR donors are going to be inundated with political fundraising communications — mail, email, and phone calls, in addition to the nonstop barrage of ads they see on TV and hear on radio. All of these communications will be asking for YOUR donors’ political support and vote, but most will also be asking for their financial support as well. And the political campaigners are going to be asking more frequently and aggressively than your organization. So how do you protect your revenue streams and make sure that your organization’s message doesn’t get drowned out by the political cacophony of the 2020 presidential election? Here are a few steps you can take to make sure that your organization and your cause remain at the top of your donors’ minds.

  1. Increase the frequency of your communications with your donors — Email is the best, most economical way to accomplish this. I kept track of the political fundraising emails I received from just one candidate during the 2020 primary election cycle. I received an average of 18 fundraising emails PER MONTH. By way of comparison, for the other nonprofits I donate to, I received an average of 4 fundraising emails per month. The best way to remain top-of-mind with your donors is to stay at the top of their inboxes.
  2. Leverage relevant issues that apply to your cause if they come up in the political campaign — This can be tricky to accomplish, but if your organization finds that its mission or cause is brought up in election discourse, leverage that in your fundraising. Create an emergency appeal. Planned Parenthood, Meals on Wheels, the NAACP, and other great nonprofits experienced their missions being threatened by the political climate in 2016, and they were able to leverage that into extremely successful fundraising efforts. Plan ahead. Have an idea of how your organization may be impacted by the election process and think about how you could potentially leverage anything that comes up in the media. 
  3. Employ a year-round plan to keep your organization in the public mind — We are currently running year-round digital campaigns for many of our clients. Most of these relate to lead generation, but having your organization’s name in the market constantly has huge value in maintaining mind share. 2020 is NOT the year to be cutting your online presence.
  4. Be aware of FCC filing dates — Knowing these dates can help you avoid sending emails on dates when candidates and special-interest groups will flood donors’ inboxes with emails. For 2020, the remaining quarterly filing dates before the election are: 7/15/20 and 10/15/20.

Want more help staying in front of your donors during the presidential election? Contact us!

About the Author:
Bill Blinstrub
Senior Account Executive, Agency Services

Years in the industry

6 in Fundraising, 20+ in direct mail and marketing

Role at the Company

I develop and execute client strategy, as well as provide results analysis and budget management. I am the key face-to-face client contact, advising on all fundraising activities, best practices, trends, whatever my clients need! If my client needs something, I make it happen!

What excites you about your work at AFG?

I love the people, and the culture. AFG really creates a positive, proactive environment that empowers me to fully immerse myself in serving my clients. No idea is off limits, new thinking is encouraged, and everyone works together to meet one common goal.

What are your hobbies/interests outside AFG?

I am an avid- but not fast- runner. I enjoy competing in road races whenever possible. Its a great way to experience a new city/place, and I love running “unplugged”, no headphones. I love to hear the sounds of nature around me. Running really allows me to connect with a place and its people.

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