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After Divisive Election, Charity can Play Unifying Role

Tolli Love, CARE’s vice president of fundraising and marketing

Tolli Love, CARE’s vice president of fundraising and marketing

By Tolli Love, CARE’s vice president of fundraising and marketing.

Following a divisive presidential campaign, many Americans are answering the election negativity in a very positive way: by increasing their charitable support. The campaign surfaced the passions of many Americans, on issues ranging from immigration and refugees to the status of women and America’s role in the world. We immediately saw news reports on donations pouring into some groups, particularly those focused on the environment or women’s issues.

A new CARE survey indicates this is more than a small, fleeting trend. One in four Americans either already has increased or plans to increase support for nonprofits and charities as a result of the U.S. presidential election, according to the online survey of 2,054 adults conducted for CARE Nov. 28-30 by Harris Poll.

Among those ramping up their support, more than half (52 percent) say they  are doing so because it’s one way they can effect change after the election. Many (41 percent) see increased charitable support as a way to assure the U.S. remains engaged in the world. And 40 percent say they believe their favorite nonprofit or charity is under threat.  Whatever the reasons, channeling all that passion and energy into charities and nonprofits is a really positive way to move forward on the issues people care deeply about.

The survey indicates that the largest share of increased support is going to children’s charities, followed by groups supporting women’s reproductive rights/family planning, environmental protection and women’s empowerment and women’s rights. Groups focused on health care, LGBTQ rights, race relations and international humanitarian aid/global poverty also were high on the list.

CARE’s work to empower women and girls around the world overlaps with a lot of these issues, and, though it’s still early, we’ve seen signs of increased support this giving season, including through a new campaign called #DreamWithHer. It fosters a personal connection by linking people here via social media with girls in Malawi who benefit from CARE’s poverty-fighting work. By “dreaming with her,” supporters have interacted with the girls — Evelesi, Maliyana and Alinafe — asking questions about their life in Malawi and learning of their dreams for a brighter future in southern Africa. “Their energy, hope and optimism inspire me,” said CARE President and CEO Michelle Nunn after meeting the girls in person during a recent trip to Malawi. Our donors apparently feel the same, as many have enriched that connection by purchasing items from an associated gift catalog, whose proceeds support programs that help girls like Evelesi, Maliyana and Alinafe.  

Yet, as our survey indicates, it’s not just financial gifts that Americans say they are increasing; it’s also time volunteering or advocating for a cause. And we’re seeing this at CARE, too. Our advocacy network of more than 270,000 people, called CARE Action, is currently advocating for policies that empower women globally and has seen a surge of interest and engagement in this issue since the election. The number of “likes” on the network’s Facebook page has jumped by more than 20,000 since the election.

Perhaps the most encouraging revelation in the survey is that Millennials and younger GenXers are leading the trend in increased charitable support. Although young adults have been criticized for not playing a larger role in the political process, our survey indicates that the election has spurred them into action, via charitable giving, volunteerism and time spent advocating for causes they care passionately about. Even more importantly, Millennials were twice as likely as those 35 and older to say they want to work with those of different political views to solve the world’s most pressing problems. And that bodes well for our country’s future.

Starting with the delivery of more than 100 million CARE Packages after World War II, CARE has always united Americans behind the cause of helping those most in need around the world. And, at a time when the U.S. is so divided, we are ready to play that role again.

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