2016 was a hell of a year that many would prefer to forget. It featured a contentious presidential race featuring two of the least liked candidates in modern history, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, as well as some smaller party candidates that got little attention from the media. There were accusations of wrong doing by both major party candidates, releases of hacked embarrassing communications, and fake news stories released by both sides of the political aisle. As everybody knows, Trump won the Electoral College and the election, while Clinton won the popular vote, much to the surprise and chagrin of Progressives.
Since the election, something interesting has happened, and it continues to happen as a result. Giving to Progressive causes has increased at an amazing rate. Progressive favorites, like Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as well as many other nonprofits, large and small, saw year end support soar like never before. In the six weeks following the election, Planned Parenthood received over 300,000 more donations than they normally received during that time period, and during that same time period, the ACLU received over $23,000,000 in just online donations alone. Many of those donations came from first time donors. That’s amazing news for the employees and clients of those organizations.
More recently, since the Trump administration has announced its first budget which includes potential funding cuts, reactionary giving has done a great deal for another well known organization, Meals on Wheels, which brings meals to homebound seniors and other shut ins. The new budget would cut or eliminate Federal grants to states which has been distributed to social service agencies since the Ford administration. Since that announcement, Meals on Wheels America has received a healthy spurt of unsolicited online donations.
The inspiration of this surge in giving, in my opinion, seems to have little to do with actual philanthropy, but is more intended as a political poke in the eye of the current Trump administration. Maria Godoy at NPR has referred to it as “Outrage Giving.”
While I don’t care what reason a person has to donate to the worthy cause of their choice, I do wonder some things about these reactionary donors. Will these donors continue their gifts annually, or is this a one and done gift? Will these donors increase their involvement with the organizations as volunteers for projects and events, or in the case of Meals on Wheels, will they spend time driving meals to seniors or prepare meals? Will the donor only support the national umbrella groups, or will they act locally?
How will those organizations react to this situation? Will the organizations take advantage of the opportunities and nurture these new donors for future gifts and support for their missions? How will the organizations communicate with these new donors and what will be the tone of those communications?
I also wonder how the government will react to this burst of giving. Will they see this new support for Meals on Wheels as a signal that they should rethink their cuts to the HHS grants, or will they think that so many people have stepped up to support the organization that they can leave the cuts in place?
The same thing can be asked about Planned Parenthood. Congress has wanted to cut funding for that organization for years, and since Planned Parenthood has garnered a nice windfall, will Congress feel emboldened enough to cut its support for the women’s health provider? I guess, time will tell.
Maybe President Trump will be good for the nonprofit sector. A lot of organizations sure seem to be benefitting from his election, so far. Any bets on which organization or cause will be the big winner and financially benefit from his next Twitter outburst? Only time will tell.