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Monday, April 20, 2020

Top 5 Things to Remember When Making Political Donations


Before COVID-19 dominated the 24-hour news cycle, much of the nation’s attention was on the 2020 election. While the election has taken an enormous backseat, it’s still going to happen November 3, 2020, and campaigns and political organizations are still asking for contributions. Make sure you review the list of our Top 5 Things to Remember When Making Political Donations before you make your next (or first) political donation.

Top 5 Things to Remember When Making Political Donations

1. Your donation isn’t tax-deductible. Donations to qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofits are tax-deductible, but donations to political campaigns and committees, like 501(c)(4)s, aren’t. Also, it’s important to note that some groups have a 501(c)(3) and a 501(c)(4). Take the AARP for example: donations to the AARP Foundation are tax-deductible because it’s a 501(c)(3). Donations to the AARP aren’t tax-deductible as it’s a 501(c)(4).

2. Monthly donations go further than one-time gifts. Charities love when their supporters create monthly donations because they help them better project programmatic budgeting and growth planning. As someone who used to work in political fundraising and now works in charitable fundraising, I can report that political campaigns and committees feel the same way about monthly donations as charities.

3. Early money is critical. Team members who work as fundraisers are often the first staff onboard in campaigns, as politicians need to secure early funding to really get their campaign off the ground and running. Campaigns are incredibly eager to receive contributions at any stage in the game, but they are especially happy receiving money early on. If you are passionate about a candidate and have done your research, then, by all means, donate to them as soon as possible.

4. A record of your donation might be public. If you make a donation of $200 or more to a federal candidate, then that candidate is required to disclose your name, occupation, employer, address, donation date, and donation amount to the Federal Election Commission. Anyone can search for the political contribution history of themselves or others on the FEC website.

5. Keep tabs on your investments. You just gave to a candidate you really believe in. Great! Now, make sure they are staying in contact with you. Get on their campaign email newsletter list. If they win their election or are an incumbent, get on their government official email newsletter.

Last, here’s an ever-timely bonus tip, but unrelated to political giving though...

Are you somewhat (or a lot) worried about going to the polls in-person on election day because of COVID-19? I am as well!

Contact your local or county elections office and tell them you’d like to register to vote-by-mail. You’ll get your ballot weeks in advance of each election and you’ll have lots of time to research all of the down-ballot races that don’t get as much media attention.

This post was contributed by Kyle Gardner, Charity Navigator’s Senior Development Manager. Kyle oversees annual campaigns and our monthly donor program, the Frequent Navigators. He is a political news junkie, enjoys all things basketball, and is a proud Kansas Jayhawk. Kyle is passionate about Charity Navigator because he believes that philanthropists of all sizes are truly incredible people and deserve independent resources like our star ratings, giving tips, Hot Topics lists, impact information, and advisories.

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