Top 5 Webinar Learnings – The State of Giving after President Trump’s First Year

Last week, we held our third and final webinar of the Charitable Giving in the Trump Era series, that looked at a range of giving intent and advocacy behavior data at the one-year mark of President Trump’s term. The research, powered by NRG, told a story of how the initial, large bursts of rage giving that occurred during the time when President Trump came into office, have ultimately proven unsustainable as we look beyond the first year of the administration. During the webinar, we heard strategic nonprofit insight and research implications from our VP of Nonprofit Strategy, Bethany Maki, and our VP of Research, Glenn Lalich. Different from our second webinar in the series – when threatened causes and policy changes evoked widespread giving – our third installment shows similar levels of passion and concern around causes, however the actual intent to give has somewhat subsided.

Check out these top five learnings from our April 4th webinar, and view the recording here!

  1. Advocacy and Activism are beginning to return to levels seen just prior to the inauguration –  providing a more accurate representation of what charitable giving will look like in 2018.

Despite the continuing levels of passion and concern around threatened causes, the velocity of rage philanthropy has begun to taper off, as donors adjust to the ‘new normal’. Overall, expected giving is down 33%, and donors are experiencing a sense of over information-paralysis, resulting in uncertainty about how best to support the causes they care most about. This trend is more relevant to the Democratic donor population, who still seek advocacy outlets – but because of diversification of so many issues and causes, there are not always direct lines for action or activism.

Strategy Tip –Traditional donor profiles are returning, and as such, will have implications on your retention strategy. If your organization experienced a shift in incoming donors, ensure that you’re aligning your overall strategy to suit, and that you’re translating concern into a value proposition that encourages donors to engage, and give.

  1. Perceptions of financial stability among Democrats and Republicans is seeing its widest gap.

Particularly in the case of Democratic donors, financial concerns have a direct impact on intent to give to charitable organizations in 2018. Democrats across all income levels indicate a stronger decline in expected giving than Republicans, which can likely be attributed to recent policy changes, such as the GOP Tax Bill.  77% of Democrats expressed concern about the bill’s impact on charitable giving, in comparison to the 22% of Republicans. Conversely, Republicans continue to express more confidence in their personal financial status under the Trump administration.

Strategy Tip – Traditional messaging isn’t breaking through nearly as much as it once was. Now is the time to evaluate your “story of solution” – i.e. how through your organization, the donor can contribute real, tangible change to society. Take this time to consider how your organization portrays that message, without becoming overly polarizing to different groups within your constituency. Additionally, using political party overlays when analyzing your data is more important than ever, in order to fully understand your target demographic, what their catalyst for giving is, and ultimately, their sense of financial stability that contributes to giving intent.

  1. Small donors represent an important opportunity for organizations, as they showed the lowest decline in projected giving for 2018. 

In keeping with our previous research, small donors appear to be the most consistent, with those making less than $60,000 per year seeing the smallest decline (-7%) in what they intend to donate throughout the upcoming year. Although mid to large donors still have an intent to give, those amounts have decreased significantly by 32% and 51% respectively. For many small donors, giving is an emotionally-driven, activism-focused type of give. When we first began to see this trend, we called it rage philanthropy. But with people past the initial phases of rage, the behavior can be classified as a new kind of activism.

Strategy Tip –  Continue to tap into your smaller donors’ passions. If you maintain a relationship with them that is both appreciative and inclusive, there is increased potential to turn them into lifelong supporters who could evolve into major contributors in the future. It also increases the chances of those donors sharing your organizations’ stories across their own passionate communities.

  1. Younger Americans are continuing to show greater concern, and remain highly engaged with causes they care about.

Millennials (aged 18-34) remain more passionate about charitable causes than donors aged 35 and over. 34% of Millennial donors still plan to donate more under the Trump administration. This projected increase is a counter-trend to the broader 35 and over population.

Strategy Tip – Millennials are more connected than previous generations, and as such, consume news and current events at a very fast pace. To stay relevant, be aware of the news cycle and move away from single-campaign based thinking by focusing on real-time solutions that address their ongoing, growing concerns. Use social media to your advantage when engaging with Millennials, who get most of their news and information from charitable organizations on social platforms.

  1. Social Media continues to grow as a hub for both donations and advocacy.

Despite growing privacy concerns, social media remains a major source of awareness for charitable organizations, and has become an important part of charitable giving. 48% of overall donors have donated via social platforms, with that number increasing to 60% amongst the millennial base.

Strategy Tip – Although the landscape is changing and there is apprehension around the way data is being utilized, that concern does not de-emphasize the importance of leveraging data to create hyper-personal experiences. To improve your approach, take the opportunity to test and learn, to see what resonates, and listen to your audience. The donor voice connecting with you via social is incredibly valuable when it comes to your organization’s strategic planning.

Recommended Posts

Leave a Comment