The current presidential election cycle promises to bring in record contributions from political donors. The question is, how does competition from political fundraising affect donor giving to nonprofit organizations?
New research from Blackbaud, which examined the influence of political giving on charitable giving in the 2012 election year, finds that donors who made federal campaign gifts that year contributed 0.9% more to charities than they did in 2011.
At the same time, donors who did not give to political campaigns reduced their charitable contributions by 2.1%.
These findings held across all household incomes, ages, and men and women, the research showed.
Blackbaud based its research on 400,000 households that appeared in both the Federal Election Commission database of political donors and in its own nonprofit cooperative database. These households gave political gifts in 2012, and made at least one charitable donation in 2011 and 2012.
Non-political donors were those in the nonprofit database who made at least one charitable contribution in 2011 and 2012, but did not donate to a presidential or congressional campaign.
“Our findings suggest that the 400,000 political donors studied are extraordinary charitable givers,” the report said. “They gave $800 million in political gifts in 2012, while also giving more to charity in the same year.”
The study looked at how political giving affected charitable donations in six nonprofits sub-sectors studied. The research found the following percent changed in charitable giving from 2011 to 2012 by political donors and non-political donors:
- Arts and culture: 5.3% vs. -2.2%
- Environment and animal: 0.7% vs. -2%
- Health care: -1.1% vs. -2.1%
- International affairs: 0.9% vs. -2.1%
- Public and society benefit: 6.8% vs. 1%
- Human services: 14.5% vs. 2.6%
The report said that, as expected, charities involved in missions and programs touched by major campaign issues — environment and public and society benefit — benefited from political discourse on those themes, and organizations focused on public policy advocacy benefited most.