This month’s presidential election was a long time in coming. Whether or not your candidate won, I suspect that, as a nonprofit manager or Board member, you are glad it’s finally over. I am. A lot of important business has been on hold waiting for the election outcome. The “noise”—on TV, in email inboxes, and on front lawns—has finally died down.
Unfortunately, and while the impact of this remains to be seen, I am concerned that the presidential campaign this time around will have had a profound effect on 2012’s year-end giving. The amount of money raised—and spent—for this campaign is unimaginable to those of us who worry daily about donor acquisition, retention, upgrading and stewardship. Is the money raised for recent political campaigns—in the billions—during an already fragile fundraising environment now unavailable to support critical causes in America such as meals on wheels, education, arts/culture, healthcare and social services? For nonprofits, I am afraid the “noise” of the last campaign will be the least of our problems.
At a time when so many worthy organizations are struggling and when countless nonprofits need to grow in order to meet increasing demands for basic human services (to say nothing of the needs that will emerge after the fiscal cliff crisis is “solved”), much discretionary spending was given to the presidential race. With a crippling student debt crisis and failing public schools in many communities, Americans who care about their country’s future bought campaign ads, not textbooks and laptops.
Don’t get me wrong. I love politics. And I fully appreciate how important our political process is to democracy and our way of life. But fundraising for and spending on presidential campaigns is now officially out of control.
It is my hope that the spirit of philanthropy can make up for the billions of dollars that have been taken out of circulation. And as our economy slowly recovers, I further hope that donors across the nation will continue to support the organizations that so desperately need them.