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Presidential Campaigns Have Little Impact on Direct Mail Fundraising

(Sept. 2, 2008) While charities are facing numerous challenges in the current fundraising environment, the presidential election isn’t one of them, according to a new research report.

Measuring the Impact of Political Fundraising on Nonprofit Direct Mail Performance, conducted by Columbia, Md.-based Merkle, revealed that political elections have no noticeable impact on charitable contributions and that both types of giving—political and charitable—can coexist and even increase.

Political contributions from individuals have grown dramatically, from $220 million during the 2000 campaign to more than $700 million to date for the 2008 cycle. Charitable contributions dwarf these numbers, rising from just over $200 billion in 2000 to more than $300 billion in 2008, with individual contributions making up approximately three-quarters of those amounts.

Different Types of Donors

The report also found that charitable and political donors have different demographics in general.

Political campaign donors are typically younger. At least one-third of all nonprofit contributors are 76 years of age or older, compared with less than 8 percent for political contributors and 7 percent for all donors. About half of all political contributors are between the ages of 46 and 60. Similarities between nonprofit and political contributors are only found in donors between 56 and 70 years of age.

In terms of gender, 75 percent of those who give political contributions are male. But of those who support nonprofit organizations, less than 42 percent are male.

One of the most dramatic differences between nonprofit donors and political donors is found in household income. People who give to presidential campaigns tend to have higher incomes (50 percent above $100,000), while those who give to nonprofit organizations tend to have moderate to low incomes (50 percent between $25,000 and $75,000).

About the Report

An executive summary of the report is available free of charge at the Merkle website.

To develop the report, Merkle look at large amounts of historical direct mail performance data – from a group of large national nonprofits from various sectors, including health, environmental, military, political, domestic relief and international aid – and compared it with political contribution data obtained from the Federal Election Commission.

Merkle provides strategic consulting, database services, content solutions, analytical services, interactive and creative services, and production services to Fortune 1000 companies and leading nonprofit organizations.

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