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Your Guide To Donor Research Through Political Donor Lookup Tools

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Published: Mar 4, 2022

Campaign finance sources are of utmost importance to ensure fair and transparent elections. However, tracing these sources becomes easy when using trusted political donor lookup tools. These tools are essential because:

  1. They help track the source of donations to candidates, ensuring lawful transfer of money.
  2. They help a candidate’s campaigns look for organizations that are most likely to donate, the amount they can give, and where to find them. 
  3. They help you discover people committed to donating because your political party or policies are personally relevant to them. 

If you belong to the last two categories, this article is for you. This article guides donor research, donor research tools, and donor relationship nurturing for political fundraising. Let’s discover how you can research donors through political donor lookup tools.

How do you research political donors?

When you want to research prospective donors, you need to look at specific areas that serve as the starting point for more insights on donors and donation patterns. They are:

  1. Existing donor database
  2. Donations to similar organizations
  3. Involvement in advocacy campaigns
  4. Wealth indicators

Let’s explore these in more detail.

Existing donor database

The easiest way to begin your political donor lookup process is by exploring your existing database or fundraising software

Begin by looking at a list of donors who have donated once or repeatedly to your political party in previous election cycles. If you are a campaign that has just begun, start looking at the initial donors who have contributed to your candidate’s campaign. 

Figure out who they are, if there is a pattern in the various types of people that donate to you (a particular gender, income level, location, etc.). 

You can use this information to do the following:

  1. Develop a persona of your likely donors and design strategies to reach out to people who fall into the same categories.
  2. Develop retargeting strategies to reach out to existing donors to donate to your campaign.
  3. Capture this data in a short time and before the reporting period.

Donations to similar campaigns

Suppose you want to expand your political donor lookup process beyond your existing donors (as your campaign grows, you must). In that case, you can begin by looking at people who have donated to similar campaigns. 

A good idea would be to look at donors who have donated to similar campaigns in a previous election cycle, donors who identify with your political leaning, or, interestingly, those who vehemently oppose your competition.

Involvement in advocacy campaigns

People who donate likely do so because they are personally passionate about seeing a change in the world or how they are being governed. In your donor acquisition process, look for donors who have donated to causes you are championing or are members of a relevant political committee during your run for office.

For example, if people have donated to nonprofit organizations or political campaigns that promise to aid planned parenthood policies, and if that is a policy you support, you could look up and reach out to such donors. You will find a history of transactions made by individual donors, corporates, and organizations through political contribution search tools.

Wealth indicators

You can also conduct your political donor lookup research intuitively by thinking about people who are most likely to donate because:

  1. They can afford to donate to your campaign.
  2. They might benefit from your run for office and subsequent win.
  3. They are part of a political committee and contributions to your candidate’s campaign are tax exempt.

An individual’s ability to be able to donate in such a manner can be determined by a few factors:

  • Real estate ownership: The more real estate they hold and the locations in which they own real estate can largely determine if a prospective donor can significantly support your candidate’s campaign.
  • Business owners: When business is booming, an individual’s desire and willingness to donate might increase depending on how your run for office can benefit them. 
  • Nonprofit contributions: Individuals who have donated significantly to nonprofits are likely to contribute to your political party if your interests match. 

These factors can be starting points for the period beginning your outreach using methods like emails, phone surveys, and political donation letters to nurture these donor prospects and gain more information about their interests, policies they support, etc.

You May Also Like: Is Robodialer Legal for Political Phonebanking? Understanding State and Federal Law.

Political donor lookup tools

When researching campaign donation records, you might have a better chance of creating a highly efficient and valuable list if you have the right political tools by your side. 

Political contributions search tools help you get a clearer picture of the people you will appeal to for big-ticket as well as small donations. They will help you gather valuable information that you could use to persuade prospective donors to raise funds for your campaign.

We’ve explored a few political donor lookup tools that will help you shortlist beneficial donors and raise funds for your campaign this election cycle.

DonorSearch

DonorSearch’s political contributions search tool is one of the most exhaustive databases for political donors. DonorSearch was founded with the singular mission to help nonprofits, and political campaigns increase get public funding with the power of data. 

political-donor-lookup-dsgiving
Source: DSGIVING. DonorSearch’s results pop up when you enter any prospective donor’s name or business name. 

Features:

  • With DonorSearch’s donor lookup tools, you can summarize, analyze and filter results through keyword search and executive analysis functionality.
  • You can determine an individual’s giving capacity using wealth screening tools.
  • Enrich your donor database by adding DonorSearch’s API extension and gaining more insights into your list.

OpenSecrets – Donor Lookup

OpenSecret- Donor Lookup is one of the most popular tools for researching political donor contributions. Their singular mission is to follow the money in politics, and they claim to be nonpartisan, independent, and nonprofit.

political-donor-lookup-opensecrets-searchpage
political-donor-lookup-opensecrets-results-page
Source: Donor Lookup • OpenSecrets 

Features:

  • Donor Lookup features in which you enter donor names and receive an entire list of their nonprofit contributions and contributions to political committees.
  • Resources for understanding patterns of political wealth distribution and circulation in the US economy. 

FEC.gov

The Federal Election Commission makes it simple to search for political donor contributions through their advanced campaign contributions search tool. Since the mission of the FEC is to inspire confidence in the US democratic process, it is only fitting that they are involved in making donor data available for all to see. Using the tool also helps you easily comply with state and federal law.

political-donor-lookup-fec
Source: FEC.gov 

Features:

  • Through this database, you can filter your search by adding a number of fields, allowing you to understand the various types of donors that fit perfectly for your campaign.
  • Discover timeframes for different giving activities in the period beginning an election cycle to understand how active a prospective donor is currently in terms of political contributions.
  • Understand individual profiles to know the causes they lean towards and organizations they support.

Donor outreach strategies

Once you have prepared your prospective donor lists after using political donor lookup tools, you need to chalk out donor outreach strategies. The right strategy is imperative to nurture relationships with donors and eventually convert them into active donors and supporters of your campaign.

We’ve listed a few donor outreach strategies you can use after you look up political donors.

  1. Segment your list
  2. Look for appropriate outreach channels 
  3. Design your outreach material
  4. Follow-up for more conversions and repeat donations.

Segment your list

Once you’ve built your political contributions database, it is time to segment your list to group prospective donors according to different criteria. These criteria could range from donation capacity to personal involvement in causes related to your campaign. 

However you choose to segment prospective donors, it will help you create effective outreach strategies.

For example, if one of your policies directly affects safer school environments for children, then you might want to segment your list and target parents. Microtargeting political donors will prove to be a more effective way to raise funds.

Your CRM or communication software can help you segment lists with ease since most have in-built list segmentation features.

Read Also: 23 Political Campaigns Tools that Power Modern Day Campaigns 

Look for effective outreach channels

Now that you know your prospective donors, you might also develop a fair idea about the best ways to reach out to them. High-value donors might appreciate direct mail and phone calls, while others might appreciate the ease of text messaging. Here are different communication avenues to explore:

  1. Direct mail: Sending out handwritten or personalized letters to prospective donors is a great way to show them how much you value their political contributions. In fact, 70% of Americans feel that direct mails are more personal and direct ways to raise funds.
  1. Phone calls: Phone calls are an excellent way to solicit funds for your campaign, conduct phone surveys to understand your donors or fundraising efforts better, make personal contact through agents, and reach a large number of prospects in a short duration of time. You can use calling software to enhance the effectiveness and speed of your calling campaign.
  1. Text messaging: You can share short, relevant information with donors through text messaging. Not just that, you can also share media files through MMS texting, share links for donation and get a 98% open rate on all your texting communications! 
  1. Emails: Thought emails were dead? When you lookup political donors, you will realize that many still prefer to be contacted via emails. In fact, all major political campaigns in the 2020 elections – from Bernie Sanders’ to Donald Trump used emails to solicit public funds.

Once you figure out the right combination of communication channels to reach out to your ideal donors, you will nurture donor relationships more effectively.

Design your outreach material

Your outreach material is an integral part of your fundraising process. The quality of print material you use, the design and colors you choose for your branding, and how your communication is designed and executed make a great impression on your political donations.

Follow-up for more conversions and repeat donations

Campaigns spend a significant amount of time and effort nurturing donor relationships. While it is great to add new donors to your fundraising list, it is also important to note that donor retention costs a lot less than donor acquisition.

Therefore, you need to spend time following up with your existing donors and maintaining relationships with them.

Some best practices that you can implement are:

  • Track campaign metrics and repeat campaigns that have worked for you.
  • Send a thank you text or email to donors immediately after they donate.
  • Inform donors regularly about how campaign funds are being used.
  • Share updates about the campaign to keep donors involved.
  • Ask donors to fundraise for you through peer-to-peer fundraising. 

Read Also: Demystifying Donor Retention & Strategies That Can Improve It

Conclusion

Political donor lookup and research is the first step towards creating a highly efficient donor nurturing strategy. Reaching out and developing relationships with donors is the most critical next step to converting potential donors. 

CallHub’s outreach software is ideal for all your communications needs. Try it for free for 14 days.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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