In business, it’s often said that 80 percent of your revenue comes from 20 percent of your customers. This is referred to as the 80-20 rule. And while the exact percentages are not always 80-20, the rule can be applied to virtually any type of business, including political campaigns.
A glimpse into the 2012 presidential election shows this to be true: “If we look at the Romney and Obama committees, victory funds and Super PACs all together, we see that 82 percent of the total money donated comes from just 14 percent of the donors, according to an analysis by Politico and the Campaign Finance Institute.”
So, what does this mean for local elections and candidates who don’t necessarily have the luxury of fundraising from PACs?
It means you absolutely must give extra, special attention to your most loyal donors. Here’s how:
1) Identify your most loyal contributors
Remember that those who donate to your campaign are the most likely people to donate again. So if you’re emailing and sending mail to all your supporters, be sure you’re segmenting them based on whether they are also donors. Additionally, segment based on their total number of donations, frequency, and dollar amounts, so that you can easily identify your biggest donors.
2) Follow up constantly
Once you know who your donors are, stay in touch with them. Reach out to them via any channel available: email, direct mail, phone and door-knocking, when appropriate. Email is the least intrusive medium, and it gives people the opportunity to make donations directly on your website. And by actively appealing to your donors, you are more likely to garner more contributions from those who are the most supportive of your campaign.
3) Reward them
There’s a reason why political candidates have exclusive dinners with their big donors. They work! Inviting your donors to a VIP dinner shows how much you appreciate their support and that you respect them as your most loyal supporters. It’s a simple way to “give back” to these donors. And by putting a fundraising spin around the event, this can also be a great way to raise even more money for your campaign.
4) Take time to listen
You should already be listening to all your supporters. But when it comes to your biggest donors, you may want to spend some additional time with them. Have a sit down to listen to their input and feedback, one on one. This doesn’t mean you absolutely must change your campaign strategy based on their suggestions. But it will show the supporter that you truly appreciate their contributions and that you’re willing to take time out to talk to them individually.
Keep in mind that not every supporter can afford to contribute. The advice listed above should never be a substitute for thanking and appreciating all your general supporters, including those who can’t donate. But by actively focusing a portion of your campaigning on your repeat donors, those efforts are likely to generate the majority of your fundraising.