The Election Effect: How the 2020 Presidential Election Will Impact Nonprofits
The 2020 presidential election will likely impact nonprofits in several ways, including both challenges and possible opportunities.
The first has to do with donor fatigue. As the democratic party narrows in on a presidential candidate, the remaining presidential hopefuls will continue to make frequent appeals for support in the form of donations. The democratic party only recently began pushing for grassroots, small-dollar donations. While effective, this tactic is in direct competition with other grassroots fundraising. Currently, only about 5% of the population donates money to political campaigns. But it just so happens to be the same demographic that already makes small donations to nonprofits. In addition, with so many potential candidates still competing to head up the democratic ticket, some democrats may receive multiple appeals from multiple candidates. Unless a clear frontrunner emerges after Super Tuesday, this could continue through the first half of the year. After that, democrats will continue to rally their base to make donations in an effort to match President Trump’s considerable campaigning coffers. All of these persistent requests for donations could add up to donor fatigue. And with the election taking such high priority, nonprofits may get the short end of the stick.
The 2020 presidential election is certain to clog channels and hog mindshare. From news reporting to political ads and everything in between, the election cycle will make it much harder for your nonprofit to be heard above the noise. Traditional email appeals will have real competition. Texting-based communication programs will, too. As a result, your usual marketing and communication efforts may not be enough to move the needle. Traditional email appeals will have real competition. This year more than ever, the pressure is on to deliver a strong brand and messaging in order to stand out and compete.
Spotlight on issues
Election dialogue and debates hinge on issues. From climate change to healthcare to immigration, this year’s presidential election won’t be any different. Of course, only time will tell which issues will take precedence and how they will be framed in debates and in national discourse. However, the issues that rise to prominence could affect your cause either directly or tangentially. Depending on your organization’s focus and approach, this wave of attention could boost your ability to rally support. This could result in free earned media and mindshare for your issue. It may even be possible to piggyback on the political spotlight that is shining on your issue and leverage it for increased impact. You must be nimble and pay attention to what’s happening in the election in order to capitalize on these opportunities. For example, when the Dakota Access Pipeline became a national conversation, the Lakota Law Project used the national coverage as an opportunity to grow their list and raise significant funds.On the other hand, savvy organizations may find ways to insert their issues into the election cycle. For example, March for Our Lives, a youth-led movement to end gun violence, is calling on mayors to sign a pledge to support a youth voter registration initiative. In addition, they recently hosted a debate about guns and invited candidates to attend. With these tactics, March for Our Lives is working to insert their cause into the election.