When 2020 began, we knew we were in for a wild ride with a presidential election cycle. Little did we know everything else this year had in store for us.
With the upcoming election on everyone’s minds, many nonprofit organizations are becoming concerned about how their fundraising efforts will be affected in this already-challenging environment. The good news is that elections generally have little effect on charitable giving – with the exception of nonprofits that are tied closely to political causes.
That means you don’t need to worry about losing out on donations or dramatically altering your approach to year-end giving. Keep pushing out the message about your mission and the impact donors can make. Stay connected with your donors, and you’ll be okay.
There is one area, however, that will need an adjustment: digital media.
As we inch closer and closer to Election Day on November 3, campaign spending will skyrocket in this area. Both parties, as well as numerous political action committees and other related groups, will compete for attention in display, search and social ads.
As the competition heats up, here are some strategies to consider:
1. Increase your budget
More demand will lead to an increase in costs across the board for digital media. For nonprofits, this means higher costs to bring in donors and gifts online.
If you want to compete, you will need to increase your digital media budget to fight through the noise in September and October. There is no set recommended amount to spend – that will vary greatly depending on a wide variety of factors.
2. Dial back your digital spending
The alternative to swimming against the current is to jump out of the stream. We don’t recommend putting a stop to all digital media spending – like a hot water heater, it will take time to heat up again – but it may make sense to reduce your spending a bit.
If the cost to acquire new donors gets too high, let the political groups duke it out for attention. Just be ready to immediately ramp up your budget again on Nov. 4, once the election spigot turns off.
3. Narrow your audience
Digital media is great for casting a wide net as you prospect for new donors.
During the election season, we recommend narrowing your focus. Determine which segments of your donor file perform the best and generate ads that are targeted toward audiences that look similar to these groups.
You may bring in fewer donors than usual, but you will also be able to spend your dollars more effectively.
4. Highlight the good
Finally, one way to stand out in a crowd is to look different.
With all of the negativity surrounding the election, people are looking for something to lift their spirits. Adjust your creative messaging to reflect the positive aspects of your mission.
It’s well-documented that giving to charity makes people feel good, so tap into that spirit of generosity. You’re doing good in the world, and you can make donors feel good about their contribution to your cause.
Only time will tell how the presidential election will turn out (along with the rest of 2020), but we know these adjustments will help nonprofits weather the turbulence leading up to it.
Jarred Schremmer is Vice President of Strategy, Digital and Media at RKD Digital. He has worked in multichannel fundraising, communication and direct marketing for a distinguished list of health, international relief, faith-based, arts and culture, and university clients since 2005. Jarred leads RKD’s dynamic team of digital fundraising and media specialists who serve an international base of nonprofit organizations. RKD has a remarkable record of success helping organizations increase media reach, multiply fundraising and marketing revenue, and grow digital and multichannel donors.