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Election Season, Politics and Charitable Giving

Election Season, Politics and Charitable Giving

by Bill High

Did you know that people’s political affiliation is linked to charitable giving habits?

Not too long ago I read “What Election Season Means for your Nonprofit,” by Paul D’Alessandro on NonProfit Pro. Paul offered some interesting observations:

  1. Political ideology “helps determine their support of charities.”
  2. Counties that are overwhelming Republican have higher donations to charity.
  3. Generally, Democrats live in higher taxation states and thus are involuntary givers by way of increased tax payments.
  4. When a county is evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, giving goes down. Competition between the parties decreases overall giving.
  5. 75% of registered voters favor regulation to make it harder for politicians to misuse charities in the “political nonprofit” space (related to 501(c)(4) and 501(c)(6) groups and dark money).
  6. This political fundraising/misuse has contributed to an overall decline of trust of nonprofits. This falls under the category that “if one is bad, then all are bad” category.


Candidates and Charitable Giving

Reading Paul’s article brought to mind a Forbes analysis of the charitable giving history of the Democratic presidential nominees in “How Charitable are the 2020 Presidential Candidates?” Despite having higher net worths than most of the American public, the candidates ranged from a low of 1% to 11% of their income over a 10-year period.

To be frank, I’m not sure how we resolve the political nonprofits fundraising issue. It strikes me as something that should be dealt with at the formation level.

But I’m definitely in favor of asking questions of political candidates and their charitable contributions, as in the Forbes article.

It would tell me a lot about the candidate if they would disclose where they give and why. As we say at The Signatry, you sign your name to the things that matter, the causes that you care about. I want to know what a political candidate has been supporting with her or his own money before I hear what government programs they want to create.



Photo by David Everett Strickler on Unsplash

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Published February 28, 2020

Topics: Culture Commentary

Charitable GivingFundraisingNonprofits

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