Holding the Line vs. Piling On: A Surprising Look at the “Trump Effect” on Giving
How has Donald Trump’s unexpected ascendancy to the White House affected the world of giving? It’s still early, of course, to make definitive judgments. But in addition to anecdotal evidence that many funders have changed some of their priorities or practices in response to Trump—as we report regularly—more data has become available on the dimensions of what’s been called a “Trump effect” on philanthropy.
Earlier this spring, the Center for Effective Philanthropy published a report, Shifting Winds, based on a survey of 162 foundation CEOs that found that almost three-quarters of foundations that responded to the survey “are making, or planning to make, some change in their work as a result of the election of Donald J. Trump.”
Two surveys conducted by PMX Agency and National Research Group—one immediately after Trump’s inauguration, the other at the 100-day mark—also shed light on the extent of a “Trump effect” on giving, in this case individual donors. The findings suggest a number of new patterns, and some of them are quite surprising.
The most noteworthy, the pollsters found, is that Democrats and Republicans alike are expressing a renewed interest in charitable giving—but for quite different reasons. Democrats, in large part, hope to offset Trump’s expected blow to their liberal agenda, especially on public health and social welfare issues. Republicans, meanwhile, are eager to capitalize on the White House’s anticipated backing for their favorite religious and defense-related causes.
Simply put, Democratic givers hope to hold the line, if they can, while Republican donors are anxious to pile on.
“The lessening of the divide is driven by the liberal donors, not movement towards the middle from both sides,” PMX Vice-President Bethany Maki told Inside Philanthropy. Democrats are beginning to perceive a “more diversified threat,” which is prompting them to embrace a wider range of “urgent issues”, she says.