Are your politics hindering your fundraising?

chubby soapboxA few weeks ago I sent a version of this to my Fundraising Kick subscribers. But I'm seeing someting that will seriously impair your fundraising so I wanted to share it with you too.

Fundraisers: Stop the political vitriol!

If we live in a democracy, we need to be active. We need to participate in the politics of our communities and countries. But as fundraisers, we need to be very, very tactful. And careful.

Unless your cause is political, your politics can seriously hinder your fundraising.

Here’s an example from the USA that will surely irritate some of you. Apologies in advance. (Links to the source data will be at the end of this post.)

You may be "right" but your most generous donors probably won't agree

Let’s say you’re a Democrat. You think all Republicans are non-thinking, homophobic, reactionary idiots who want to throw us back to the Dark Ages. (Honestly, I’ve seen those words used by fundraising professionals and consultants in the last week!)

Being civically engaged, you tweet your views. Even during work hours.

Chances are your colleagues agree with you. Chances are you are more or less talking into an echo chamber during the work day. (Just as much as the other people that get all their news from Fox News are more or less living in an echo chamber.)

Watch out.

Your slamming conservatives saying they want to send us back into the "Dark Ages" may leak into your conversations with your board or donors. But chances are if you have 9 people in a room: 3 of them are Republican, 3 are Democrat, and 3 are independent. A study just a few weeks ago showed there are 36% of Americans calling themselves Republican and only 32% calling themselves Democrat.

More importantly for your fundraising, in the USA, studies have been done showing that Republicans are more generous donors than Democrats. Or rather, Republicans are more generous with their own money; Democrats more generous with government money.

Which source would your nonprofit prefer to get gifts from?

Don’t slam your best donors

You are free to say whatever you want. But do so realizing how your best donors might take it. If your work is largely government funded, learn to tell your story in a way that resonates with fiscal conservatives.

Whether you agree with them or not. 42% of Americans consider themselves “fiscal conservatives” about government spending.

Shut up and listen

One of the best ways to learn to tell your nonprofit’s story in a way that will resonate with people with a different world view is to be quiet and listen to them. Ask them why they support your charity. Find out what got them interested in the first place.

When you meet with them listen to the words they use to describe what you do -— especially the words and phrases you don’t normally use yourself.

Stay passionate. Be wise.

This isn't just Democrat vs. Republican. It goes for any divide: conservatives and liberals, PETA people and carnivores, Microsoft fan boys and Apple devotees.

Your passions are good. They are what set you apart.

But democracy is made up of lots of people with different beliefs finding a middle way.

So I wanted to remind you this common sense message: Be passionate, celebrate diversity, and fundraise wisely.

Source Data (Proof that I’m not making this stuff up!)
- One such study was in the Chronicle of Philanthropy a few years back: looks like you need a subscription to read it.

- 36% Republican; 32% Democrat

- 42% fiscal conservatives

About Marc A. Pitman

Marc A. Pitman is the CEO of The Concord Leadership Group, the author of Ask Without Fear! and director of The Nonprofit Academy. A coach to leaders around the world, Marc's expertise and enthusiasm engages audiences and has caught the attention of media organizations as diverse as Al Jazeera and Fox News. Marc’s experience also includes pastoring a Vineyard church, managing a gubernatorial campaign, and teaching internet marketing and fundraising at colleges and universities. He is the husband to his best friend and the father of three amazing kids. And if you drive by him on the road, he’ll be singing 80’s tunes loud enough to embarrass his family! You can connect with him on Google+, on Twitter @marcapitman, and like "Ask Without Fear!" on Facebook.
To get his free ebook on 21 ways to get board members engaged with fundraising, go to


  1. Patrick Manion says:

    Spot on. I often observe employees hijacking the good mission of their organization to promote their own personal political agenda. Not only is this dangerous in the sense you pointed out, it is also a violation of IRS regulations and can place the charity at risk of regulatory action.

  2. "Shut Up and Listen" - best advice to funding seekers, Marc, you should tweet that once a day every day!

  3. I will tweet it for you 😉 my brand is Straight talking speaker 😉

  4. As a one who gets "the ask" and decides what to fund, I find philanthropoids' political rants help me easily cull the requests I receive.

What would you add?