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Episodic Giving and the Rise of the ‘Rage Donation’

How your organization can harness social discontent to make an impact

In an era when charitable giving is as easy as a few clicks and a submit button, it’s hardly a surprise that nonprofits see their online donations grow year after year. Recurring donations are often automated, which makes it even easier for citizens to continually donate to their favorite causes. Interestingly, however, it seems that a growing percentage of these are donations are motivated by anger rather than generosity.

Anger? Yes. It’s 2017: Welcome to the rise of the “rage donation.” Can your organization harness this discontent to benefit social good?

What is a rage donation?

Nonprofits, charities, and foundations are acquiring new donors through episodic giving. Episodic donors are people who give to organizations in response to specific events, such as disasters, headline news, and political actions.. “Rage donations” are a type of episodic giving in which people express their emotions through donations to causes that they feel are threatened, or are poised to make a political impact.

For example, rage donations to progressive causes skyrocketed after the 2016 election. Planned Parenthood received donations at 40 times its typical rate, with 70% of those being first-time donors. The New York Times also reported that other progressive nonprofits, including the ACLU, ProPublica, the Sierra Club, and the International Refugee Assistance project, experienced similar surges in donations.

One Way to Engage Donors Beyond the Rage Donation

While episodic giving can bolster fundraising efforts, it is often difficult to retain these donors beyond over the long run. Donors are called to action because of a moment of anger or inspiration, but when that feeling fades, so does their support. Therefore, nonprofits will have to work harder than ever to keep these donors engaged.

To keep donor interested, realize that they want to know about the impact of their donation and how it has benefited your cause. Charity:Water does an excellent job of communicating a donor’s impact. They allow donors to geo-track their donation to see exactly which community in the world they’re supporting. Illustrating a donor’s impact may play a significant role in whether they will want to donate again. Visual storytelling is a fantastic way to communicate impact and keep the Millennial donor engaged!

In Conclusion

The culmination of front-page headlines, televised protests, and public tweet-storms are causing donors to pour money into nonprofits in record numbers. This is only the beginning of the rage donation, and we should expect it to grow over time. How nonprofits respond to, and engage with, these episodic donors will determine whether these will be one-off messages of support, or a recurring tributes to the causes these donors care about.

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