Donations of rage, charitable donations energized by the news
(The Conversation) – When anger over everything from the killing of unarmed people of color to new restrictions on abortion access erupts, many Americans act on it.
One avenue for someone fed up with current events is to participate in protests, such as marching for gun reform in response to the mass shootings. Another is through what nonprofit and philanthropy researchers like to call “rage giving” — charitable giving driven by strong emotions and dissatisfaction with the political climate.
In our new book on this phenomenon, we explain that people often donate to nonprofits in the wake of breaking news about events they consider tragic or unjust. By donating, people may feel like they are addressing the harm they want to see righted, or they may be expressing an opinion or value that is strongly politically motivated.
Moments of division
When media coverage builds and collective anger culminates in high-profile marches, rage givers can experience an emotional release by channeling their feelings into something they view as positive.
Quick bursts of anger sometimes referred to as “fury triggers” usually drive these gifts.
We have found that waves of rage are often triggered by divisive political moments. These unexpected spikes in donations are usually fueled by widespread media coverage.
For example, after the mass shootings in Uvalde, Texas, and Buffalo, New York, donations to groups that support victims of gun violence in both communities increased.
And, shortly after the May 2022 leak of the Supreme Court’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, NARAL Pro-Choice America, an organization that advocates for abortion access, saw a 1,400% increase in donations in 24 hours.
Similarly, the Brigid Alliance, a nonprofit abortion fund that provides financial and logistical assistance to people seeking abortions, saw its donor base quadruple from May to July. Donations ranged from $5 to $50,000.
Growth after the 2016 elections
The gift of rage is not limited to guns or abortion. It’s not new either.
But there are many signs that the phenomenon grew before, during and after the stormy presidential elections of 2016 and 2020. Many people concerned about immigration, civil rights, sexual assault and harassment during these highly polarized times sought opportunities to give to nonprofits and political action committees as quick and easy ways to express their outrage.
The ease and growth of online giving, up 42% in the three years to 2021, makes it easier for rage givers to express their outrage. It is no longer necessary to send a check by mail or call.
The gift of rage is, of course, partisan in that anger and outrage can provoke political mobilization, action, and higher voter turnout.
But nonprofits on both sides of the political and cultural divide have reaped the bargains of the rage in recent years. Donations to pro-gun organizations like the National Rifle Association, for example, can increase when gun control measures make headlines, as is usually the case after mass shootings.
More likely to be female and Democrat
In 2017, we commissioned a survey that identified 520 people who said they donated to a nonprofit of their choice after feeling unbridled anger during the 2016 presidential election. data, we estimated that approximately 58% of these rabies donors were female and 80% were white.
About 44% said they were Democrats, about 35% said they were Republicans, and the remaining 21% identified themselves as independent voters. Because the shares of Americans who lean toward one major political party or the other are more equal, we found that at this time, Democrats were more likely to donate this way than more conservative Americans. .
Thinking about the 2016 presidential candidates and the stances each candidate takes on social and environmental issues, one North Carolina hater said in response to our survey, “I’m just sick of it,” a- she declared. “We have to do something.”
We also found that surveyed rage donors were likely to be civically engaged – through behaviors such as volunteering, voting, contacting elected officials, and participating in marches and protests. Rage giving, as a form of collective action, aligns with other helping behaviors by giving a voice to the underserved and unheard.
Further research is needed to get a clearer picture of why some people act this way. But based on what we’ve learned so far, we believe that people who engage in rage giving see philanthropy as a type of civic engagement and that their giving, along with other giving , makes a difference.
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