Asking for money is an important part of campaigning, but many inexperienced candidates are hesitant to do so.
How much should you ask for? What if you ask for too much? And if you ask for too little, are you missing out on potential contributions?
Established nonprofits and political organizations will tell you to always ask for specific amounts of money in your appeals, rather than leaving it to your donors to decide. But in order to determine what that amount should be, you need to do a little homework.
Has the donor given previously?
Use data to your advantage. If you’ve run for other positions previously, you should have each donor’s contribution history. Use that to help determine how much each supporter is willing to give. Also consider external data sources, such as the Federal Election Commission (FEC), to see how much supporters contributed to other campaigns in the past.
Do you have additional data on each supporter?
The campaign experts at Local Victory recommend using “common sense” based on information you may have on your supporters, such as where they live or what they do for a living. For example, if “a donor is an attorney at a major firm in your city, what do attorneys at similarly sized law firms in your city earn, on average?” You can use that to help you determine your suggested donation.
Will asking too much offend voters?
In most cases, no, it won’t. In fact, many supporters may even be flattered by the high ask. In the end, they’ll give whatever they can give, so it’s best to aim higher, rather than lower. These days, it’s a good idea to collect donations on your website, so that supporters can give any time of day, even from their phones. If you’re sending an appeal email, consider incorporating multiple call-to-action buttons, each with a different suggested amount, ranging from just a few dollars to several hundred.
How much are they legally allowed to give?
Keep in mind that your local, state or federal election laws may dictate how much a supporter is legally allowed to give. Be sure you’re familiar with these limits before asking any supporters to donate.
What if I don’t know how much to ask?
If you have zero data on your supporters, then just go with whichever suggested amount makes sense for your campaign. Don’t stress about it. Asking too much or too little isn’t going to kill your campaign. But again, in general it’s best to ask for more than you think the supporter is willing to give. Providing a suggested donation amount will almost always result in a larger donation than not suggesting any amount at all.