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US Rage Philanthropy Dies Down

9 March 2018 at 5:31 pm
Wendy Williams
The so-called “rage philanthropy” that was inspired by the appointment of President Donald Trump is beginning to taper off, according to a new report.

Wendy Williams | 9 March 2018 at 5:31 pm


US Rage Philanthropy Dies Down
9 March 2018 at 5:31 pm

The so-called “rage philanthropy” that was inspired by the appointment of President Donald Trump is beginning to taper off, according to a new report.

Research from the US-based National Research Group and PMX has found a sense of “normalcy” is returning to giving and advocacy levels, after 2017 saw a surge in activism-motivated giving, or “rage philanthropy”, across the political spectrum.

One hundred days into Trump’s term in office, charitable giving was at a peak, coming off a groundswell of activism across the country in reaction to major policy changes.

However, according to the latest report nearly one year later, both charitable giving and advocacy have roughly returned to levels seen right after inauguration.

“A year into the Trump administration, we’ve seen an evolution of giving behaviour, and a real sense of giving and advocacy fatigue coming to light,” the report said.

It found the average expected giving amount had dropped over the last six months of 2017 among both Democratic and Republican voters, with Democratic voters showing the largest decline in expected contributions.

The report suggested this latest trend could represent “a more realistic view of giving in 2018” compared to the surge of intent reported in the first few months following the 2016 presidential election.

It marks the marks the third report in a series exploring Charitable Giving and Advocacy in the Trump Era.

The first report, based on an online survey conducted in January 2017, found around a quarter of respondents planned to give more under the Trump administration.

At the time, Trump voters said they planned to give more money to charity, with their donations concentrated among faith-based causes/organisations.

By comparison, Clinton voters said the election had made them more likely to spread their donations out to multiple causes and advocate on behalf of causes in greater numbers.

The second report, released after the first 100 days of Trump’s presidency, found Trump remained polarising, causing changes in behavior on both political sides.

Included in the main findings was that on the left, certain sectors of charitable giving seemed to be threatened by actions and intentions of the president, spurring greater advocacy and donation intent.

Meanwhile, on the right, religious causes and military/veterans causes were perceived to be more secure under the new administration, but Republican voters expected to give
more to these sectors in 2017 as they had increased confidence in their personal finances.

However, the latest report, coming at the end Trump’s first year, found the average expected giving amount was down 33 per cent since the previous report and landed slightly below expected levels of giving at the time of the first report.

The majority of Democratic voters (74 per cent) were more concerned now that the organisations they supported would be defunded.

“Their intention or ability to give more to every threatened cause, however, is not keeping pace with their increased levels of concern,” the report said.

It suggested the recent passing of the GOP Tax Plan could be a possible reason for the decline in expected giving.

“The recent passing of the GOP Tax Plan – considered a major win for the Republican administration – has increased the gap between Republican and Democratic voters on perceptions of financial stability. This likely contributes strongly to the anticipated declines in charitable giving among Democrats in 2018,” the report said.

It also pointed to both parties showing signs of fatigue.

“Democrats may be tapped out in their giving, while Republicans may be falling off in their support of Trump and therefore don’t feel as obligated to give,” the report said.

The report concluded that “the velocity of rage philanthropy [was] beginning to taper off”.

As a result it said it was “more critical than ever” for not for profits to “think beyond single campaigns or moments-in-time” to create sustainable, meaningful engagement with donors showing giving and advocacy fatigue.

The report also recommended not for profits maintain awareness of significant news events and “other prevalent issues that correlate to cause affinity and intent to give”, and emphasise the focus on personalised experiences, as well as a balance of advocacy and giving opportunities.

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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