Asking for campaign contributions is an essential part of running for any elected office. But you must do it properly if you expect your potential voters to give you their money.
No matter what position you’re running for, chances are you’re going to need funds to increase your awareness and build your campaign. Even if you’re backed by large PACs (political action committees), or you’re funding your campaign with your own money, it will be imperative that you’re able to show you have significant monetary support from your supporters. Without that show of donor strength, other voters might not consider you a viable candidate.
So, what are the best ways to raise money for a political campaign? Here are some basic do’s and don’ts:
- Follow federal rules
Before you ask for a single penny toward your political campaign, make sure you’re doing it in accordance with the law. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has very strict rules dictating who can contribute, how, when and how much. Make sure you, your staff and volunteers understand and follow these guidelines.
- Always be clear you’re asking for money
The golden rule of fundraising: don’t beat around the bush! No matter what method you’re using to reach out to voters, you must make it extremely clear and specific that you need more than just votes: you need money to mount a winning campaign.
- Explain how contributions are used
The average voter does not have political campaign experience, and thus they often do not know why politicians need donations or how that money helps. Clear it up for them. Tell them about your stances and what it’s going to take to reach more voters, via advertising, door knocking, making phone calls and so on. Be specific, if possible. Ask for a specific amount and explain how that amount translates into actual campaign work.
- Give people multiple ways to donate
These days, most of your supporters will prefer the convenience of donating online – so it’s imperative that you can accept donations on your website. But be sure you’re also prepared to accept checks, cash, money orders and credit card payments, in-person or over the phone.
- Plan fundraising events
Dinners, speeches, donation drives – virtually any event can be turned into a successful political fundraiser. These events work because they build excitement around your campaign. They engage and motivate your biggest supporters, who are often willing to make a sizable donation just to get in the door.
- Make it up as you go
Your entire fundraising plan should be mapped out far in advance. Create a detailed fundraising plan that will help you to stay organized and on track to specific goals.
- Don’t forget to follow up
Research shows that the voters who are mostly likely to donate are the ones that have already This is why it’s crucial to follow up with your donors, several times, and don’t be afraid to ask again.
- Don’t lose sight of the issues
Backing up your donor appeals with the issues of your campaign is a delicate balancing act. Chances are you’re going to be asking certain donors for money several times before Election Day comes. But if you aren’t reminding donors about your message, your vision or the issues that matter to them, then your fundraising will never take off.
- How To Raise Money For Political Office: The Original Guide To Winning Elections Through Aggressive, Organized Fundraising (Amazon)
- Making the Dough Rise: A Manual for Campaign Fundraisers (PDF)