News and analysis
September 25, 2017

Roundup: Fundraising in the Trump Era

President Donald Trump and the policies he champions are presenting new challenges to a wide variety of organizations. Here’s what The Chronicle has learned about how charities are shoring up support in uncertain times.

Progressive donors are eager to give.

Supporters are ready to dig deeper for charity this year, according to data released in June by Cygnus Applied Research and PMX Agency, with progressive-minded donors in particular feeling a sense of urgency about giving more.

Nonprofits focused on the environment, health care, and women’s and international issues in particular are most likely to benefit from this increased generosity, according to a July study by ABD Direct, a fundraising strategy firm, and the Mellman Group, a research organization.

Hot-button issues are driving donations.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Greenpeace, and other organizations focused on issues in the spotlight have found waves of new support since Mr. Trump’s election.

Some, such as the ACLU and PEN America, which champions freedom of speech and the press, have benefited in part from directly challenging policies and statements by Mr. Trump and GOP leaders.

Though groups that oppose legal abortion have not reported major upticks in support since Mr. Trump’s election, they do report seeing an opportunity for advocacy with a sympathetic leader in the White House.

Threats to a charity’s government support can activate donors.

When Meals on Wheels, a program not known as a magnet for controversy, found itself facing the chopping block in March when the White House released its preliminary budget proposal, its national organization geared up for an advocacy fight. It quickly posted new online appeals and saw a sudden burst of donations.

Charities with experience in surviving deep cuts in their government support shared survival strategies that help keep their missions intact.

Booms in giving prompt strategies to retain new donors.

The ACLU, for example, is looking for wealthy supporters among its new crop of contributors and trying to recruit more members to its monthly giving program.

Some organizations, such as Black Lives Matter, are adding fundraisers to help find and keep new donors. The grass-roots organization began looking for its first development officer in August.