A New Class of Donor?

According to a recent post in The NonProfit Times, households making first-time gifts to new organizations increased for the first time in 2017, up 10 percent from 2016. Citing a study conducted by Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact, The NonProfit Times reported that this bump is being fueled largely by already active donors who are expanding their giving footprint.

So what’s behind this uptick? Chuck Longfield, chief scientist for Blackbaud and senior advisor for the Blackbaud Institute, cited an unusual if not oxymoronic source for all these new donations: rage giving.

“Longfield, who authored the report, attributed very little of the 2017 surge to tax reform, citing, rather, increases in discretionary income and “rage giving.” Despite economic rebounds from years earlier, donors had more money to do with what they desired in 2017 than in years past. The divisive political nature of the country also had a role. Donors, conservative and liberal alike, engaged in “rage giving” in 2017 to support their ideals. Liberal voters have been most successful in this regard, Longfield said, citing donation increases for the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, and the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

These statistics are remarkable because they stand in stark contrast to donor behavior from previous years. In fact, between 2010 and 2016, households making first-time gifts to new organizations actually declined by more than 16%.

Longfield’s study goes on to discuss how nonprofits can properly nurture all these new relationships, but in our view, that’s not the real story. Lost in all this is the obvious frustration and helplessness motivating this new giving.

Sustained Change is Needed

It’s clear to even the casual observer that there’s a lot of tension and anger at play in our current political moment. And at the heart of these negative emotions is a profound sense that something is very wrong and it’s not getting better.

Now we can argue endlessly about what that something is, and if you watch cable news, you know that we certainly do. But now we’ve also started lashing out in a way. Reacting to the negatively with a flood of new money supporting the nonprofit organizations we hope can help turn the tide.

But is this an efficient use of our money? Probably not. These emotional donations tend to flow to the highest profile organizations working nationwide or around the world. Meanwhile, many smaller groups that are driving real change at the community level are being overlooked. So is there a way to harness this negativity in a more intentional way so that organizations working on the ground can accomplish sustained change? There will be soon.

Conscious Consumerism

GroundSwell was founded as a social purpose corporation, which means the common good is woven into our corporate DNA. We built a framework that provides philanthropic organizations a new and sustainable source of revenue, while at the same time, giving their supporters a new form of quiet activism. This socially-conscious consumerism (we like to call it purchasing with purpose) allows them to choose what their economic activity (buying stuff and paying bills) supports.

It is, perhaps, the opposite of rage giving. Instead, it’s focused, consistent, and intentional – a rising tide. Imagine what will be accomplished when millions of individuals are engaged in this way, instead of just yelling at each other on the internet. What could we accomplish if everyone put their money where their mouth is?

Would all those somethings start getting better?

We really believe they will.

Click here to learn more about the GroundSwell program.

Click here to read The NonProfit Times Post.