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Fundraising Tips for Election Season 2020

Unless you have been living on Mars for the past year and a half, you know that there is a Presidential election coming up on November 3. And if you have been living on Mars, you’ve probably still seen ads for one side of the other, with digital spending expected to easily surpass the $1B threshold for this cycle and overall political advertising projected to reach $6.7B (2020 Political Spending Projections | Advertising Analytics & Cross Screen Media).

With the airwaves clogged and news feeds full of ads, how should nonprofit marketers vie for attention until November 3? How will this campaign impact the rest of the end of year giving season? Here are a few things to consider:

1. Target political donors on your file

When looking back at the past Presidential contests, the Blackbaud Institute found that charitable giving was not negatively affected by an election year, but there was still an influence. The study found that politically active donors increased their charitable giving by 0.9%, while non-political donors decreased their donations by 2.1% (Giving in an Election Year | Blackbaud Institute). And donors who became sustainers during election week stayed on file longer and had a higher overall value than what was acquired during a non-election week  sustaining donors.

How are you overlaying political contributions against your donor file?

2. Messaging – be uplifting!

Consumers become easily fatigued by political and election ads the closer we get to November 3 and people are looking for ways to unite and not fight. Messaging should appeal to the humanity in all of us and inspire donors to help create change, illustrating need, outcome, and create a compelling case for support for your organization. Be prepared for an October Surprise, and a November Surprise, with backup plans and messaging.

Timing of appeals will be critical (especially for digital). Avoid the week of the election and be tuned into current events – the week after the election is historically the right time to re-engage, but this year things could be different.

How unifying is your messaging? Are you making the donor the hero? How quickly can you pivot?

3. CPMs will rise

In the 2018 cycle:

  • 56% of Google political spend happened within a month of the election
  • 42% of political advertisers on Google only started spending seriously in the final four weeks
  • CPMs rose +25% in the eight weeks before Election Day

And it’s a big question mark what the media landscape will look like immediately post-election, depending on the outcome. So, it’s going to be noisy out there. (2018 Political Digital Advertising Summary Report | Tech for Campaigns)

With October poised to be a tough month to break through – consider less competitive platforms than YouTube and Facebook. These platforms will be oversaturated, and you will risk brand safety issues - despite the commitment to crack down on misinformation and foreign interference, we know that these platforms have a history of being exploited.

Do you have a plan for shifting to less crowded platforms in October, and maybe through parts of November? How good do you feel about your brand safety measures?

Take these actions to ensure that your 2020 fundraising is successful this election season.