Nonprofit PR: How today’s political and social climate impacts donations

by | May 3, 2018 | Public Relations

New research from nonprofit-focused marketing research org Edge Research explores the phenomenon of reactive giving, who reactive givers are, and why they are giving across different generations and political affiliations.

“Today’s political and social climate are helping drive younger and first-time donors to give to charitable and cause-related organizations,” said Lisa Dropkin, principal at Edge Research, in a news release. “While rage or anger trigger some reactive giving, our data illustrate that hope and empowerment are often the underlying cause for a donation.”

Key findings from the report, Reactive Giving: Understanding the Surge in Cause-Related Giving, include:

Reactive giving is real

Two-in-ten (21 percent) U.S. donors who contributed to causes in 2017 did so at least once because they believed current political events threatened causes or beliefs near and dear to their hearts.

Reactive giving brought in new donors

Reactive donors were twice as likely to be first- time donors. The majority of reactive donors gave to issues, causes or organizations they had never supported financially.

Reactive giving crosses party lines

Those surveyed who donated as a reaction to current social and political events are disproportionately Democrats (53 percent), but still a third (32 percent) identify as Independents and more than one-in-ten (16 percent) as Republicans.

Reactive giving brought in young donors

While every generation has reactive givers, younger donors were much more likely to have given this way. Nearly a third (31 percent) reported such a donation, compared to fewer than twenty percent among other generations.

Hope and empowerment are strong emotions

While anger propelled some donors to take notice of an issue, the main reason reactive donors cited for ultimately making a charitable contribution is two other emotions: hope (63 percent) and empowerment (58 percent). Anger fueled only 26 percent of reactive givers.

Reactive giving benefitted progressive organizations the most

The main causes donors gave to revolved around anti-poverty, anti-hate, racial justice, LGBTQ equality, and environmental issues.

Nonprofit PR: How today’s political and social climate impacts donations

“Reactive donors are looking to make a difference with their charitable contributions, especially around issues of social justice and equality,” said Pam Loeb, principal at Edge Research, in the release. “It’s incumbent upon nonprofit organizations to engage these younger and first-time donors to show their investments are making an impact.”

Download the full report here.

Edge Research conducted an online survey of 895 U.S. donors. A non-probability sample of adults aged 18+ was drawn from a national survey panel of over two million households. The sample was controlled to be U.S. Census representative, and qualifying participants reported that they had made a monetary donation to at least one nonprofit organization/charitable cause within the last 12 months (excluding children’s school, alma mater, and place of worship). Data were collected December 5-30, 2017.

Political affiliation and reactive giving, reasons for reactive giving:

Nonprofit PR: How today’s political and social climate impacts donations

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter