Political fundraising is the lifeblood of your entire operation if you’re going to run for office. Without enough money to operate and get the word out, you can’t hire staff or get your message out to the voters that don’t know you. Fundraising becomes more difficult if you’re running for a smaller office or if you don’t have the political support of a major party. In order to be successful you should consider creating a fundraising plan that involves identifying potential donors and methods of reaching them.
There are numerous ways that you can go about fundraising for your campaign, and pretty much any of them could potentially work depending on where you live and what office you’re going after. No matter what you choose it’s important to make sure you don’t violate any campaign fundraising laws.
Here are ten of the most popular ways to fundraise for your next political campaign:
This is, perhaps, the most popular way to raise money for your campaign. Many potential politicians will hold fundraisers that can range from a backyard family barbecue to a black-tie-only gala. The point of the event is to get meet people who have the ability to contribute money to your campaign. This is one of the best ways to meet supporters that you don’t know personally, especially ones with deeper pockets.
Here are some of the most important things to keep in mind when planning your fundraiser:
The Audience: If you’re running for a smaller office then every dollar counts so hosting a community-centric event might be your best bet. If you’re running to be the next mayor of New York City then you will obviously want to appeal to many on the upper east side with a more formal event. Regardless, your event should match your target audience.
Make Yourself Available: At the event, you need to find a way to make yourself available to as many people as you can. Letting community members get to know you is a surefire way to bring in extra dollars to your campaign. This is very important if you don’t know a lot of donors.
Consider Costs: Fundraisers aren’t cheap to hold. You’ll need to rent out a space or venue, potentially have food and activities, and make sure that the event actually has a purpose outside of shaking your hand. This can be expensive and your event needs to make back whatever you spend before you can get a single dollar added to your campaign.
Find a Purpose: Your purpose for the event should be more than just you. Holding a dinner or a concert of the local musical talent are two examples of reasons people would be willing to attend an event. Some supporters would be willing to overpay for an activity, where you can pocket the extra for your campaign, more than they would be willing to give to a political campaign.
One of the oldest ways to find supporters who would be willing to either vote or donate to your campaign is through going door-to-door and talking with people or handing out materials about your campaign. While some upscale communities might have a no-solicitation policy, this is something that any candidate can do and virtually no office is above this type of activity.
Even members of congress have notoriously been willing to go door-to-door to talk to people and get the word out about their campaigns. This has been successfully done by people all over the country but it isn’t easy work. It takes a lot of hours and effort to talk to enough people to make a significant difference. As you get the word out to the community and bring energy to your campaign then you will find that people are more willing to donate to your campaign. A best practice can be to hand out a flyer or card that points people to your website where they can learn more about your campaign and can donate.
A great opportunity you have as a political candidate today is the array of tools at your disposal to keep communications up with supporters. From being able to email them as much as you want after they donate or sign up to stay updated on your campaign to using text messages to talk to them. It’s never been easier to spread messages to supporters through technology.
Keeping a regular email campaign going to supporters is a great way to inspire donations. As things happen across the country or in your community that energizes your supporters then you can send an email asking for donations. Taking advantage of opportune times is a great way to bring in extra cash and when these types of things happen, supporters tend to donate at a higher clip than normal.
Without these technological tools, you wouldn’t be able to take advantage of the right moments and could miss out on a lot of potential money. You must have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening in order to really benefit here.
Another good way to find the money your campaign needs is to start a crowdfunding campaign. There is plenty of opportunity to raise money online through crowdfunding if you can establish a voice and a platform. The tools are available to help you set up your purpose and drive traffic to donate. Crowdfunding can help you potentially raise money before you even officially tell your community about your campaign. In fact, it’s a great way to get the funds to launch.
If you have a strong social media presence and following then this could be a relatively low-budget way to find funds as you’ll be able to drive a large number of people to your crowdfunding page. It’s also easier to inspire people who already actively follow you than it is to go out and find supporters one by one.
Here are some tips for setting up a crowdfunding campaign:
Brand your crowdfunding campaign page with your image and purpose
Clearly communicate how you’ll help people if you win
Include at least one video that outlines who you are and what you stand for
Tell your story in a way that resonates with your community
Share your campaign via social media as much as you can
Consider running ads for your campaign if needed
When running for office, there might be grants or subsidies available to you. This is especially true if you’re running for a more local office or running for office in a disadvantaged area. You can typically use these funds to help cover campaign costs such as staff salaries or campaign-related travel.
If you decide to go this route then you should apply for as many grants as you can because the approval processes can be slow and the amounts given can be low for each grant. You may need to qualify for multiple grants to get enough funding for it to be worth your time. Grant money is free, though, so anything you can get should be very helpful.
A great way to bring in extra funds is to sell merchandise to your supporters. This is easiest to do once you have a significant following and it shouldn’t be counted as a primary method of fundraising for your campaign. However, the bigger following you have then the more money this method could bring in for you.
The more creative you can get with your campaign then the better this method can do. For example, if you can make some funny merchandise or some that have a meaningful message in some way then your chances of selling the products are likely higher. It’s important to be as creative as you can and try to tie your merchandise back to your message or your community.
Some examples of merchandise you can include are:
Thanks to the internet, finding and connecting with people is at an all-time high. This creates opportunities to run marketing campaigns that can find the right people willing to support your campaign. Running a digital campaign to gain support can be done in a number of ways with several different tools. Here are a few of the best opportunities:
Paid Ads: You can run paid ads on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and more. These platforms allow you to target specific types of people or those who search for specific things. This helps you customize who is seeing your message and increases the likelihood of your success.
Organic Traffic: You can find ways to drive organic traffic to your site by creating content for your website on your community or specific topics. Sharing your thoughts across other platforms is key to gaining in the search engines to earn this traffic.
Email: As previously mentioned, running consistent email campaigns for those who have signed up can be a great way to find new donations. Running email campaigns for current supporters can get others to donate for a second, third, or tenth time if you’re able to find the right message.
Social Media: Social media is one of the most important tools at your disposal as a candidate today. It provides platforms for you to spread your message and gain momentum with your supporters. Running social campaigns is one of the most important skills today that can lead to driving support at a low cost.
Another good way to raise money for a political campaign is to hold an auction. This is where people can come and bid on items that are up for sale. All of the proceeds of those sales can go directly to your campaign. There are a couple of important elements of running an auction, though.
First, you have to find items that people will want to bid on. This could mean getting things donated that is actually worth it to supporters to come out and take part in the auction. These items can come from anywhere. You can provide a service and put it up for auction, or get local businesses to donate items that are worth more than they will likely sell for.
Second, you have to hold an auction like a grand event. You’ll likely want more activities around an auction, such as holding a dinner. This needs to be something that people want to be a part of. You could even combine activities with an auction and charge people for dinner as one fundraising method and then hold an auction at the end to bring in more money.
A fun event that people tend to support for the right cause is a walkathon. People love to get exercise, or they at least know they need to get out and be active. A walkathon provides a way for everyone to be active while supporting a cause. These have been very popular with political candidates over the past several years because they work well to bring in a good amount of money
There are two ways to raise money with a walkathon.
You get every participant to pay a nominal amount of money in order to participate.
You get every participant to find sponsors who will donate money for their participation. This could mean donating for how far the participant goes in the walkathon or just a set amount if they complete it.
The larger your community, the more you could potentially raise with this idea.
Regardless of what other fundraising ideas you choose, distributing marketing materials is a must and is one of the best ways for people to donate to your campaign. We’ve all seen the yard signs that candidates and supporters stake into the ground leading up to election days. This is one representation of these marketing materials. Other examples include flyers and cards with your face and website on them.
One of the best ways to get people to donate these materials is by putting a QR code on the material itself. When people click on the QR code it will take them straight to your website where you share your campaign story and give them a chance to donate to the cause. This can drive a lot of extra traffic to your site and get more people interested in what you’re doing.
The best part is that putting out a yard sign, for example, is a one-time cost that could keep paying for itself over and over again with new donations.
As you look to raise funds for your campaign, it’s important to understand that there are many rules and regulations that can limit or change the way you go about your activities. There are federal campaign finance laws that regulate the use of money for political purposes. It’s important to stay abreast of these rules at all times so that you never do anything to violate any of them. If you do then you could forfeit funds or find yourself in legal trouble.
One of the biggest rules is how much money you can take from different sources and how you can collect that money. For example, there is a limit to the amount of hard money, or money given directly to you, that you can bring into the campaign. However, a super PAC can essentially raise unlimited amounts of funds to aid your campaign without giving you any money.
When you solicit donations then there are certain messaging rules you must follow. For example, you must say that the message was paid for by your campaign. You also must make your best efforts to report the name, address, and occupation of every single person that donates to your campaign.
For more information on the rules of campaign fundraising then you should consult the FEC’s website.
Good Party is not a political party and we are not directly affiliated with one. Instead, we are a tech company that helps good independent or 3rd party candidates run for political office. Our platform provides expert knowledge and campaign tools for candidates like you looking to gain an advantage against your political competitors. The best part is that we provide this information for free. If you’re considering a run for office then consider booking a time with our team to learn more.
Before you begin fundraising you should set realistic goals about how much money you should be targeting and what you can potentially bring in. This will help you know how well you’re tracking as the fundraising occurs. It can also help you make hard decisions to get you back on track. The amount you’ll want to raise is going to vary by your state and political office, as will your fundraising activities. Choosing the right fundraising activities can propel your campaign forward with the money necessary to get the word out and help you win the election.