TIME, EFFORT AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT
(Jun. 17, 2019) — Ever wonder how people get started in politics? Check out this guide to the political fundraising process for first-time candidates.
“There’s too much money in politics.” That’s a view shared by many members of the American public.
Candidates are always funded by billionaire donors, right?
While there is certainly a lot of money in politics, the notion that you can only reach political office with the backing of big donors is wrong.
It is important to remember, the average contribution to Democrat Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign is approximately $27.
Have you ever wondered how political fundraising works for first-time candidates? Check out this guide to learn the basics of fundraising for campaigns.
- Launch Your Campaign
You know the old saying that you have to “spend money to make money.” The same goes if you want to get elected to office.
As a first-time candidate, you’re probably not known by many people in your district. People are reluctant to give money to an unknown candidate.
And yet, if you’re confident you’re going to win the campaign, you need to put your money where your mouth is.
You may need to spend money on launching your campaign. After all, even registering as a candidate incurs charges.
Therefore, you may need to take out a loan with Bonsai Finance if you don’t have the savings for launch.
When your campaign for office gathers pace, supporters and donors will ensure that you recover the money you have already invested in your campaign.
- Establish a Fundraising Target
You need to calculate how much you need to raise to win the campaign for office.
Running an election campaign can be a lot more expensive than you realize. If you’re a first-time candidate, you need to consider the numerous costs involved.
This could include creating campaign materials, social media political ads and the salaries of campaign staff.
The average winning candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives had a spending total of roughly $1.3 million for 2016.
You need to check how much other winning candidates spent during their successful campaigns. You should compare the figure to your particular circumstances.
For example, if you’re a less well-known candidate, you may need to spend more money in order to raise your profile.
- Plan Your Fundraising Methods
Now you have determined your campaign budget, you need to put together a plan for achieving it. What kind of fundraising methods do you plan to use?
Some popular methods of fundraising include the below:
- Mail (e.g. campaign pamphlets)
- Social media ads (e.g. Facebook ads)
- Calls (e.g. calling potential donors)
- Fundraising events (e.g. conferences or dinners)
- Crowdfunding campaigns (e.g. online campaigns)
There are pros and cons of each method. For example, calling prospective donors may be effective. However, it’s also time-consuming and expensive.
You need to compare the different methods to each other to determine which is the best for your campaign.
This could relate to your resources (e.g. the number of volunteer campaigners) and to your voting demographics (e.g. people under the age of 30 years old).
For example, if you want to appeal to younger voters, in particular, you may decide to concentrate on social media campaigns.
- Set Fundraising Deadlines in Your Calendar
You know how much money you need to raise. You have worked out how you’re going to accomplish it.
Now it is the time to determine when you need to achieve this by.
Fill your calendar with fundraising milestones. For example, by the fourth week of the campaign, you need to receive over half of your target.
Then, also plan your campaign events. This allows you to track your ability to achieve your fundraising milestones over time.
- Identify Potential Donors to Your Campaign
You can’t expect every supporter to donate to your campaign. Remember, many voters simply cannot afford to give you money.
You should begin with your network of contacts. You need to take advantage of any personal and professional contacts you have developed over the years.
Maybe you have strong links with a local business. How can you use this to your advantage?
Perhaps you have connections with local community organizations. This could help you broaden your fundraising base.
Your target donors may not be a clearly defined group either. It could be low-income households, for example.
- Put Together a Fundraising Team
You can’t fundraise by yourself.
Once your campaign has gathered momentum, you need to put together a fundraising team.
The team can manage everything from the arranging of fundraising events to writing letters to potential donors.
As the candidate, you need to make your expectations of the fundraising team clear.
How do you want them to approach fundraising? How much time and effort should they contribute to the campaign?
Also, ensure that you make your appreciation clear to your supporters. Don’t take your volunteers for granted.
- Give People a Reason to Donate
Many people think of donating to a political campaign as similar to giving money to charity.
However, that’s not the case. You give to charity because you share a belief in the same worthy cause.
When you donate to a political campaign, you’re also donating because it is in your personal interests.
You need to give prospective donors an incentive to invest in your campaign. This could be a promise to cut taxes or deliver on better public services.
Ensure that your fundraising message is received by your target donors.
Political Fundraising for First-Time Candidates
The world of campaign finance is confusing to many people. It can be tricky to work out how a first-time candidate can raise enough money to win.
And yet, our guide to political fundraising for first-time candidates shows that it can be achieved. You just need to know what you’re doing.
If you have been involved in a political fundraising campaign, let us know in the comments below.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.