Fundraising 101

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You’ve decided you want to run for office. You selected your team. You have your general plan on how your campaign will go. Now you need money. Every campaign for office, no matter what level, requires funds to raise awareness of what you are doing. Flyers, advertisements, booth entry fees, etc. do not pay for themselves. So how are you going to do it?

The first thing that must be done is to set up a bank account specifically for campaign funding. Before you ask anyone for a single dollar, you need to make sure that you have this set up to ensure that personal and campaign finances do not mix.

Now that you have your bank account set up, you need to do your very first approach. This is going to be personal meetings with your friends, family, and colleagues. The people who know you best. This is best done at a dinner or lunch function with just you and them. This is best done face to face, in an intimate setting. It may seem a little uncomfortable if you have never run for office before, but in the course of the conversation, you need to be very direct. You need to explain why you invited them to lunch and that you would like them to contribute a specific amount to your campaign. You should have a basic understanding of what your immediate network makes per year and you will base the amount on what they earn.

If your friend is a successful lawyer, making six figures a year, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a couple thousand dollars. If your brother is working for $15 an hour, however, you may only want to ask for $100 or so. You need to develop “the ask” to each individual based on what you believe they can do. The worst outcome is they say no outright, however, in the majority of cases, even if you don’t get the amount you asked for, they will agree to something. Your lawyer friend might agree to $500 and your brother $50, but if you do not approach them, you will likely get nothing.

Be sure that after you make your personal network approach, you send everyone a “thank you” note of some sort. We personally recommend a follow up with a letter, as it ads a personal touch to things, but the key is that you make sure your initial supporters feel appreciated for what they did for you. This will be especially important for the next step of fundraising involving the “Tupperware Tour.” Essentially, this will be using your network’s network to keep gaining support and donations. Since there is already an article on the subject, please follow through the link to read more.

The next thing you are going to need to do, as you move toward your party nomination, is to go to party functions like meet-ups and socials to make asks while there. These are members of your party. You need to let them know that you are seeking nomination and need their help to grow the campaign “war chest.” Let them know where you are currently, what money has gone to so far, what efforts you are taking, etc. But always ask at every function you attend for donations. You should be able to walk away with something every time you go.

Make sure that you also get the voter registry from your state or county. This is going to be especially important, as sometimes people aren’t aware there is an active party in their area, so they are registered as Libertarians, but not going to functions. These lists will have address and phone number information for you to get in contact. We recommend that you approach these individuals with letters and phone calls. You have the information: use it.

Always bring vouchers to get needed legal information when you are at a public event. If someone starts expressing interest in your campaign at an outreach event, and it appears they will support you in the election, ask them if they would like to donate. Some may want more information, which you will want to provide, but in many cases, people will donate on the spot if you present your case well.

Throughout all efforts, make sure you are collecting information to contact individuals later on. Someone who is willing to donate once, will likely donate again. Be sure to get the following information, or as much as the individual will give:

  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Email address

Those three things will ensure you can ask again.

You will also want to have the ability to accept online and on the spot donations. Some items that are good to always have on hand and services to use:

  • Vouchers for someone wishing to mail a payment
  • A card swipe service for you to collect an on the spot debit or credit donation (several, like PayPal offer free card readers)
  • A virtual terminal to accept payments by debit or credit over the phone
  • A cash lock box when doing outreach events so your money is secure
  • Mass email services. Make sure you input new contacts into this every time you get someone new.
  • If your campaign gets the ability to afford it, paid return envelopes are always good for those wishing to send a payment via mail

Make sure you are doing multiple things to raise funds. There is not “one way” to do it. You need to just make sure that you are asking people in the most intimate way possible. Face-to-face, phone calls, and letters are the most personal way to approach, and why they have larger success rates than doing a general post asking for funds on Facebook or Twitter. Always try to make things as personal as possible, and remember to always thank people for donating.

Last tip: get out there and start now!

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