Preparing for Fundraising in the Wake of the 2020 Election

What You'll Learn

The speed of news these days has required last-minute pivoting of unprecedented proportions and pace.  But here’s something we can prepare for: the Presidential Election.   

As a fundraiser, you are likely used to pivoting. Natural disasters, breaking news, unforeseen events… they can throw a wrench in your plans at a moment’s notice. At Faircom New York, we pivot when necessary. But more importantly — we plan in advance when we can! 
We know that the 2020 election results will impact all of our clients one way or another depending upon who wins. But you don’t have to wait for the results to plan. We have three plans for each of our clients: 1) If  Trump wins, 2) If Biden wins and 3) If the election is contested, we know that one of these will happen. We just don’t know which one.   

How do we make these plans? 

We draw up scenarios. 

Here is an example. Let’s say you are an organization that deals with human rights. 

If Trump wins, we know: 

  • The Global Gag rule will remain
  • Immigrants will still be caged at the border
  • Access to health insurance will be threatened
  • Programs serving vulnerable populations will be underfunded
  • Humanitarian aid will grow smaller
  • Environmental policy will negatively impact those most at risk from the effects of climate change

Charities fighting for human rights will see another “Trump Bump” in funding because donors will recognize the consequences and want to support their favorite causes. Those charities must react swiftly with aggressive calls for funds the minute Trump is elected. 

If Biden wins, we know: 

  • The Global Gag rule will be revoked
  • Immigration reform will favor immigrant rights and DACA
  • The ACA will remain and perhaps be expanded upon
  • Programs serving vulnerable populations will receive more funding
  • Humanitarian aid budgets will expand
  • Environmental policy will pivot to focus on climate change

These are all favorable to human rights causes, but they will most likely meet objection when shared with the House and Senate. So, messaging must be swift and point out that the battle has only begun to reverse four years of human rights abuses and legislation reversals. 

If the election is contested, we know: 

Political donations will skyrocket, so we risk losing money to political competitors. This is the most difficult scenario to plan for in that we don’t know how long it will last or if in fact a new presidency could be delayed. Things are that uncertain. We need to have different scheduling options and budget options. And messaging has to revolve around the uncertainties before us.   

Drawing up these kinds of examples for your organization, using the issues that will be most impacted by the respective presidencies, will give you an idea of how to plan your messaging. 

Once you’ve identified possible scenarios, now what? 

Once you have identified the levers that will go one way or another depending upon the outcome, as fundraisers, we must focus on the top three themes within each scenario most likely to appeal to donors to give. And then we must create strategic, integrated communication plans around those themes across all channels.   

For each scenario, you need a plan for: 

  • Direct mail 
  • Email 
  • Social media 
  • Digital Advertising
  • Key Word Optimization
  • Website Content
  • Takeover Screens

Once these strategies have been approved, you need to write copy, design elements, create your marketing matrices and segmentation plans, and be ready to launch the day the results are announced. 

That’s a lot of work, no? 

This is a lot of work. But it’s worth it. Why? 

Every day you lose reacting to the news that you knew was to come—either Trump wins or Biden wins—is a day you lose potential revenues to all the other organizations competing for their share of your donors’ wallets.   

And make no mistake, your competition is not just donors supporting charities like yours. It’s any charity impacted by the election. If you are a human rights charity, you are still competing with political, environmental, scientific, educational, health—every organization out there. Because every organization has something at stake related to this election. More than ever before. This election will touch every charitable sector in the nation, and many throughout the world, like none other. 

So please, we urge you, prepare! 

Our clients are prepared. Are you? 

If you need advice on planning ahead for these upcoming events, please reach out at

About the author
Corinne Servily
Founder and President of Faircom NY

Corinne provides strategic guidance for every client—based on decades of experience in the fundraising industry. Her successes have led to her being recognized as the sixth best fundraising consultant in the US.

Beginning with the establishment of Doctors Without Borders’ US fundraising program, her expertise in supporting overseas organizations entering the US market has made her a highly sought after authority in the fundraising world.

Corinne has been the keynote speaker at many fundraising conferences, including the King Baudouin Foundation Conference in New York, the Swiss Fundraiser’s Conference in Geneva, and the Association of Fundraising Professionals in Paris.

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