Political Fundraising (the basics)

November 30, 2017 - 5 minutes read

Many candidates consider fundraising as a necessary evil, a means to an end. But that is just a matter of perspective. Yes, fundraising does take up long hours of your day. But it also offers candidates the opportunity to engage their constituents and make people feel invested in the campaign. These supporters, in turn, are the people who knock on doors, attend phone banks, volunteer at events and come in throngs to help scale up your campaign.

No matter what you think about political fundraising, it is an inevitable part of every election campaign. The amount of money you raise has a direct effect on the number of people reached with your message, the number of events hosted, and every other activity that grows your campaign.

We look at a few important points to consider for your political fundraising strategy.

Initial Funding

Donors will not be ready to invest in a campaign that has not already built up a presence. But building a presence requires money. Quite the catch-22. So reach out to the people you don’t need to convince, your friends and family, your acquaintances and business associates.  These are people who already understand you and the values you stand for. And hence, will be more open to contributing to your campaign.

You may also have to put your own money into the campaign. This can be in the form of a loan which can be paid back to yourself with funds that come in once the campaign is in full swing.

Tip💡: Check out public financing programs available in your city.

Who should you ask?

Your donations are not going to come in unless you reach out to people and make specifics asks for campaign donations. This requires a targeted approach to find the people and organizations willing to invest in your candidacy.

Campaign asking voters

Mobilise volunteers to solicit donations from supporters in your constituency. The first stage of outreach is Voter Identification where you identify your core voters, swing voters, and opposition voters. Voter lists with phone numbers can be procured through the state election committee or party office.

Once you’ve segmented voters into these three groups, make donation requests to identified supporters i.e. core voters. Avoid asking donations of swing and opposition voters before you’ve had a chance to attune them to your campaign message over multiple touchpoints.

Candidate ask

Identify organizations in your constituency whose ideals or interests align with your campaign message and directly reach out to them. Support from special interests groups can drastically boost campaign fundraising and let you tap into an already established supporter base.

Volunteers asking within the community

Have your volunteers go into their communities and neighborhood groups to ask for support. A familiar face stands a higher chance of procuring donations than a stranger at the door or on the phone. Make sure to provide volunteers with specific fundraising goals. Even if they are unable to meet the goals, having a target will help them stay on track and motivated to reach it.

Keep in mind…

Before you go about asking for funds, make sure to set up a donation page on your campaign website. You can use a third-party service like ActBlue to manage campaign donations. Ticketed events like fundraising dinners, auctions, workshops etc. should also be a part your fundraising strategy. Once you’ve set up your donation and event pages, the next step is to get it in front of potential donors and build excitement about your fundraiser.

Phone banking and text messaging offer personal channels to engage with supporters and guide them to your donation page. While conversion rates for email is low, it should definitely help your donation or event page gain visibility.

Tip 💡: For supporters unwilling to buy a ticket, include a Call To Action for a donation to the campaign. If a supporter is hesitant about buying a $100 ticket, they’ll be more open to making a smaller $20 donation.

Political fundraising is an ongoing process. Your fundraising should run in parallel to other campaign activities across the duration of the campaign. With a proper strategy in place and a targeted approach to fundraising, you can raise enough funds to see you through to election day.

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