Political Fundraising: 10 Steps to Prevent Campaign Fundraising Mistakes
Before you start your campaign fundraising, make sure you prevent potential fundraising mistakes:
Fundraising is hard, and even though it is the backbone of any political campaign it is not easy to do (for a detailed breakdown of what to think about before you run, read our ebook here). Even the best campaigns make fundraising mistakes.
If you are going to run for office and need to raise money for your political campaign make sure you take steps to prevent campaign fundraising mistakes before you start.
1. Analyze your fundraising potential:
How much do you need to raise for a winning race? Before you commit to running, build a list of everyone you know and conservatively estimate how much each person will give. Avoid campaign fundraising mistakes, and don't launch headlong into an expensive political campaign without estimating what it would cost. You would not buy a car without figuring out if you can afford the payments. The political campaigns we work on are more expensive than most cars. So make sure you can afford it before jumping in. A good rule is that if you can identify on paper at least 1/3 of the total amount you need to raise from friends and family, you have a good shot to raise the rest.
2. Build a good list:
The list is the backbone of your campaign: make sure you have a rock-solid list of potential donors and volunteers. Do everything you can to put all of your contacts in one place. This takes time and focus. Doing this halfway is one of the campaign fundraising mistakes you can avoid. If you are running this year, or three years from now, take the time to build a good list.
3. Commit to call time:
Call time can suck but it is a constant in politics. If you can't dedicate 4 to 6 hours per day to making the calls needed, then you are not likely to be successful.
4. Practice your ask:
Just because you put in the time, won't make you a good fundraiser (But it certainly helps).
5. Follow up:
If you suck at follow-up, running for office may not be for you. Your follow up needs to be flawless. You need to be organized because your staff cannot do it all for you.
6. Prepare your friends and family:
You are going to ask your friends and family to knock on doors, raise money, and give money, don't let this be a surprise. Let them know and get them bought in early.
7. Stay focused:
Running for office needs to be your sole focus. If you are writing a novel, finishing your MBA, having major surgery, or any number of other life events, think twice about running for office.
You will never get all the money from your donors in one shot. You need to be prepared to ask folks for more than one donation, by phone, by mail, online and in person.
9. Don't run if you have no shot for your race:
if you are running for the first time make sure you have looked at all your options before you run for Congress. It is a lot easier to raise $200,000 than $400,000. No race is a sure thing, but there is more opportunity in some races than others. Remember 95 percent of incumbents win reelection, so before you decide to take one on, make sure you have your ducks in a row.
10. Understand the limitations of fundraising tactics:
Online fundraising, house parties, events, direct mail and institutional fundraising all have a place in your campaign fundraising toolkit, but they will not take the place of calling your friends and family.
1. Don't search for an easy way out:
Have I said fundraising is hard? It is, and there is no way out of it. So don't go down the road of searching for the magic fundraising beans- spoiler: they don't exist. Just get used to hard focused work and you will get through it.
2. Know what a good fundraiser does and does not do:
A good fundraiser will organize your time, help you with your pitch, define your fundraising prospects. However, most fundraisers don't come with a magic list and they won't make the calls for you. One of those campaign fundraising mistakes to avoid: thinking a staff person will do the grunt work necessary to raise funds. They won't.
3. Get help:
Good staff and volunteers are a must for your campaign. Put time into hiring good people and even more time in showing appreciation for the work they do. It will go a long way.
Have questions about running for office and avoiding fundraising mistakes? Drop us a note here:
Or Check out our ebooks here!