Thursday, August 6, 2015

Why Political giving is a Key Donor Behavior

As we all prepare ourselves here in America for another season of Presidential elections and the first debate is looming on tonight's TV lists for the republican party, we must not overlook the fact that there are direct ties to our industry of philanthropy. In fact, giving to a political party, whether you be an elephant or a donkey, is more a key indicator of future philanthropic giving, especially to higher education, than your wealth. Yup. Very true.

Large election years allow us to collect huge amounts of data from election commissions and then mine that data and match it to our databases to help us gain further insights into our prospects and donors. Here are some great stats from 2012 election cycle:

  • 94% of Americans never make a campaign gift, which means only 6% do
  • 1/10 of 1% of Americans make a single political gift of $1,000
  • Someone who has given at least $2,500 in his/her lifetime to political campaigns is almost 15 times more likely to give a philanthropic donation than someone who hasn’t.
  • In a study of 1 million records, 70% of all non-estate giving was attributable to FEC donors
  • If a person gives to a political party, regardless of which side, they are 9 times more likely to give to their alma mater
  • Over 90% of political donors also give to their alma mater
 In the reading I've done on the topic I found this great notion, "Organizations that examine political giving as they conduct prospect research are better able to identify new prospects, build positive relationships with potential donors, and, to a large extent, upgrade prospects." I couldn't agree more.
Growing up, we were always taught not to talk about politics and religion. I live in the south where sometimes the first two questions are "Where did you go to high school" and "Where do you go to church" but maybe we need to ask more do you give to support a political campaign?

This article is a great resource on the topic:

What have you done to identify this key behavior in your donor database and for donor relations?  Is their political party affiliation recorded in your database? Is this something that comes into play in your major gift discussions and prospect meetings? If not, now is the time. I would love to know how your organization uses political giving as a key donor behavior indicator.

And if you're not interested at all in this, you can at least have a good time with tonight's debates by playing a fun game:


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