Are ‘Rage Donations’ All the Rage?

By John Egan

Triggered in part by the 2016 presidential election, “rage donations” have entered the realm of nonprofit fundraising.

In 2016, charities saw a nearly 8 percent bump in online giving compared with the previous year. And it’s hard to imagine that rage donations didn’t contribute to that year-over-year rise.

As explained by Wired Impact, rage donations are driven by anger. To be sure, partisan nonprofits and advocacy groups attract a lot of those donations. In January, nonprofits like the American Civil Liberties Union witnessed a surge in donations after President Donald Trump’s immigration ban.

Rage donations aren’t always steeped in politics, though.

For instance, a group that helps the homeless could see a spike in donations after state officials cut funding to a grant program, Wired Impact says. Or a women’s shelter might experience a jump in donations after an act of domestic violence generates headlines.

At the DMA Chicago Nonprofit Conference on Aug. 28-30, 2017, a panel will delve into rage donations and similar issues during a session titled “Transforming Passion Into Action in Times of Change.” Speakers will come from the American Heart Association, the Human Rights Campaign, MINDset Direct and PMX Agency.

Rage donations “might come from a negative place,” Wired Impact says, “but you can welcome these gifts with positivity by focusing on what can be done about the issue at hand.”

In that vein, Wired Impact offers 10 tips for dealing with rage donations.

1. Prepare key messages and train employees and board members on the issue so they can comfortably take phone calls, chat with donors and partners, and respond to social media posts.

2. Evaluate your web content to see whether it should be revised to better explain your nonprofit’s position, goals and programs. “Don’t feel pressured to cater to the rage-donation audience; help make sure they are well educated about who you are and what you do as an organization,” Wired Impact advises.

3. Be ready to tell people how to help. “Donations are definitely nice, but are there other needs that can be met? Brainstorm all the ways that someone can get involved, like volunteering, in-kind gifts and writing letters,” Wired Impact says.

4. Update the FAQs on your website and in other materials. “Update frequently as the situation evolves, balancing a compassionate tone with strong facts,” Wired Impact says.

5. Capture information through email signup forms so you can track people’s interest and follow up with them.

6. Set up a landing page on your website that serves as an action center. “Reiterate your mission and acknowledge the pain that might be driving people to your site before showing them how they can turn it into support for a solution,” Wired Impact says.

7. Update your homepage, at least initially, to direct people to a landing page or a related page or post on your site where they can find more information about the issue.

8. Refresh your website’s media page and press kit.

9. Look into tools like Facebook Live, Snapchat and Twitter to help reach people quickly.

10. Establish a donor-retention plan that will keep rage donors engaged and informed.

This article is brought to you by the DMA. Click here to register for the Nonprofit Federation Conference, August 28-30, 2017, in Chicago.