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Blackbaud Study Uncovers the Impact of Political Giving on Charitable Giving

Provides nonprofits complementary fundraising recommendations for the 2016 election year

 Charleston, S.C. (March 17, 2016) – To provide further insight into the longstanding debate about the impact of political giving on charitable giving, Blackbaud, Inc. (NASDAQ: BLKB), the leading provider of software and services for the global philanthropic community, today released a new report, Giving in an Election Year, featuring the charitable giving habits of 400,000 political donors based on data from the 2012 presidential race. Download the full report at

“Fundraisers have long debated whether or not political fundraising affects charitable giving, and for decades, important fundraising decisions in election years have been based largely on the conventional belief of a fixed giving pie,” said Chuck Longfield, co-presenter of the report and Blackbaud’s chief scientist. “The study’s overall assertion is that political giving during the 2012 election did not, in fact, suppress charitable giving.  Donors to political campaigns continued their support of charitable causes.”

According to the study, donors who gave to federal political campaigns in 2012 gave 0.9 percent more to charitable organizations in 2012 compared to 2011 and donors who did not give to political campaigns reduced their giving to charities in 2012 by 2.1 percent. These data findings held true across all sub-sectors as well as the demographic segments of age range, household income and head of household gender.

 “As fundraisers and nonprofit leaders, we’re taught to be careful at these times —that donors who give to political candidates and causes will naturally turn away from charitable causes to focus on the issue in hand,” said Andrew Watt, author of the report’s forward and president and CEO of Associations of Fundraising Professionals. “What the findings in this report demonstrate is that, just over 180 years after Alexis de Tocqueville published Democracy in America, civic engagement is as highly valued today as it was then.”

Nonprofit Fundraising Insight to use during the 2016 Election Year

  • While alignment of campaign issues, organization mission, and programs can be a good bet, decisions about new donor acquisition, and reinstating intermediate and long-term lapsed donors should be based on an assessment of the aggressiveness of 2016 campaign fundraising and the status of consumer confidence heading into the fall.
  • This study illustrates a clear connection between passion for a cause and contributions, and nonprofits should use 2016 as an opportunity to align their advocacy and fundraising teams internally toward shared goals.
  • There is much to be learned from political campaign fundraising tactics. In 2012, Barack Obama’s campaign galvanized supporters through opt-ins, segmentation, and personalized outreach, so nonprofits should take heed and look for opportunities to rally advocates around their cause.
  • Pay attention to major donors whose engagement in politics is known, especially if an organization’s mission and program has relevance to the elections. Donors who give to political campaigns while increasing nonprofit support provide clear evidence of their capacity by doing so.
  • For general fundraising, continue to emphasize retention by cultivating existing donors and reinstate recently lapsed donors.

To learn more about charitable giving in a political climate download the full report at

About the Giving in an Election Year Study
The study examined the 2011 and 2012 charitable giving of donors identified in the donor records of the Federal Election Commission and the nonprofit cooperative database of 143 nonprofits that Blackbaud maintains. The goal was to explore a notion that political giving in a high-profile, federal campaign year would affect giving to 501(c) (3) organizations. Four hundred thousand donors were identified as appearing in the database of the Federal Elections Commission and the nonprofit database. In the case of charitable giving, Blackbaud examined the political donors’ giving to the same sets of 501(c)(3) organizations in 2011 and 2012 and compared it to giving to the same organizations by non-political donors in 2011 and 2012. Download the report to learn more about the study’s data management methodology. 

About Blackbaud

Serving the worldwide philanthropic community for more than 30 years, Blackbaud (NASDAQ:BLKB) combines innovative software, services, and expertise to help organizations achieve their missions. Blackbaud works in over 60 countries to power the passions of approximately 35,000 clients, including nonprofits, K-12 private schools, higher education institutions, healthcare organizations, foundations and other charitable giving entities, and corporations.The company offers a full spectrum of cloud and on-premise solutions, as well as a resource network that empowers and connects organizations of all sizes.Blackbaud’s portfolio of software and services support nonprofit fundraising and relationship management, eMarketing, advocacy, accounting, payments and analytics, as well as grant management, corporate social responsibility, education. Using Blackbaud technology, these organizations raise, invest, manage, and award more than $100 billion each year. Recognized as a top company, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit

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