Fundraising for a political campaign is a necessity as it's virtually impossible for a candidate to speak to every voter one by one.
Advertising geared towards informing voters about your campaign is essential to fill that gap.
Fundraising for political campaigns is a new experience for many first-time candidates.
Unfortunately, there are usually not hundreds of people looking to give you money or a base of supporters looking to give unless you're running for a high-profile Congressional seat. You will have to build your base of supporters to support your campaign.
Here are some tips on how to fundraise for your political campaign:
Raise money from friends and family
Most new candidates do not want to hear this, but the candidate and their close network are where most contributions originate for first-time candidates.
This can come in the form of candidates loaning themselves money and family and friends giving money. Generally, people who know you personally are more likely to give to you than a random person.
Many candidates build a budget for their election and then work backwards.
If you know you will need to raise $50,000 and at least $30,000 of that will need to come from friends, family, and yourself, then you can build a plan on when that $30,000 will enter your account.
This can be in the form of half at the time of launch and half near the end or a consistent amount each month. You can use a donation platform like Anedot to allow your supporters to set up automatic recurring donations on a monthly basis.
Build relationships with donors who supported like-minded candidates
If you are a Republican running for State House, then individuals who have given to other Republican state-level campaigns in your area would be a good group of people to try to build a relationship with.
In every area, there's usually an individual or business who will give $250+ to more than one candidate. If you notice that person has given to an elected official you're friends with, then reach out to them and try to get that donor's contact information.
Your first goal with a potential donor should be to cultivate a personal relationship. This could mean calling them and inviting them to coffee to better understand the issues they care about.
If at the end of that meeting you feel comfortable making an ask, then do so. Otherwise, thank them for their time and make sure they're on your invitation list for a fundraiser.
Note that some state and local entities do not have prohibitions against simply mailing donors to other campaigns, but the FEC does. The FEC prohibits using reports to mail or call donors.
However, the candidate that received the donation on the report could help you communicate with that donor as they have permission to do so.
Find new donors with Facebook advertising
The key to effectively fundraise is to have a list of individuals who are potentially interested in giving to your campaign and ensuring they are sent a message that will persuade them to give.
While we previously mentioned your personal network and donors to similar candidates, you can also try to find new donors.
Facebook is generally the most cost-efficient way to do this. You will want to use petitions to do this and then set up a redirect on the thank you page to a donate page. This "soft ask" allows you to collect their email address while also gaining some donations. You will most likely spend more than you raise doing this - at least at first.
Take a look at our blog post on building an email list with petitions to learn more about this.
Raise money with fundraising events
Fundraising events are still the most common way to raise money as it gives you an excuse to add potential supporters to give to your campaign.
However, fundraising events can also be problematic if you do not keep your expenses down.
The biggest mistake many campaigns make is spending too much money on a venue and food. If you're a small campaign, a backyard BBQ at a family member's house where food is given in-kind is an ideal fundraiser.
If you're having a golf tournament where you're footing the bill, you will need to charge a lot to make that event profitable. It's ideal to have a no-cost or low-cost event.
An event that costs $50 a person and has a VIP option is common. That VIP reception is usually with a featured speaker like a current elected official or celebrity that people want to hear from. It's more intimate with a smaller audience and typically takes place an hour before the event.
Pro-tip: Keep your fundraising costs to 20% or less of the total dollars you raise at the event.
Fundraising for a campaign can be challenging, but the above steps should help you get some ideas on how to get started.
If you are a larger, high-profile Congressional campaign, then you may be well suited to work with a consultant to implement other tactics including revenue sharing agreements.
Feel free to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any further questions!