Fundraising is the engine of every campaign.
Even at the grassroots level, communicating with voters requires money, whether for handouts, mailers, gas for your car, or even just snacks for volunteers.
In addition, raising money shows that you are a viable candidate, and others may be more willing to get on board.
But, fundraising can be intimidating and sometimes be discouraging. Potential donors will say no, and people who commit to giving you money may not follow through. This makes fundraising one of the greatest challenges, especially for new candidates.
The National Democratic Training Committee and Run for Something teamed up with Florida State House candidate Anna Eskamani for a #TrainDemsChat focused on getting your fundraising operation started. Here are some fundraising tips from our chat.
Build Your Own List
Unfortunately, there is no secret list of donors for your campaign. You will have to build your own list. The good news is you already know many of your best donors – your personal and professional contacts. The people who know you will believe in you and your campaign. They can also help you raise money by connecting you to their personal networks.
If you need help building your list, check out our Building Your Network course, where we help you identify the people who can become your strongest donors.
Prioritize Your Fundraising Time
Candidates are often parents or have careers outside of politics. With constraints on time, it becomes even more important to intentionally schedule your days. All of our experts agreed one of the top fundraising tips is to prioritize your call time.
One of the first courses we recommend candidates take is strategic scheduling for this reason. It will help you prioritize and manage your time
Though it may be easier to schedule your fundraising time if you are campaigning full-time, these other responsibilities are often unavoidable, and that’s ok. They help you relate to your potential donors. You are not another politician asking for money, but a community member trying to create change.
Breaking up your fundraising operation into more manageable weekly or monthly goals will help you stay on track to raise the money you need to win. Through the tough moments on campaigns, having short-term goals will help you keep a positive attitude and stay focused.
If you set a goal to raise $1,000, it may take you ten-$100 or twenty-$50 donations to do it, but reaching that goal will build momentum for your next $1,000.
Ask For Help
Just like when you knock on doors, you don’t have to do this all on your own.
Follow this fundraising tip from our experts and delegate. Trusted volunteers may be happy to research donors, or hold you accountable during call time.
Ask for their help, and surround yourself with people who will keep you focused and upbeat through the heart of the campaign.
Additionally, there are so many other people across the country running for office, and going through the same things that you are. Don’t undervalue the power of networking with your fellow candidate community.
For example, our NDTC trainees connect and support each other through our private Facebook group. It’s a place they can ask questions, get ideas, or just find support while on the long and often exhausting campaign trail.
When fundraising, confidence is key.
You ask your friends, family, and acquaintances for money because you understand that you are the best person for this job. Your donors need to know you believe you will win, and can make a change through your election.
Fundraising tip: If you don’t believe in yourself, neither will your donors.
Shoot Your Shot
Candidates often struggle to start their fundraising process. It is difficult to compile the list of everyone you know and to sit down to ask them for money. But the money won’t fall from the sky. You will have to ask every potential donor for the funds that you need. Some will say no, but if you don’t ask, they definitely will not give.
Our experts call this fundraising tip “shoot the shot,” because you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take. So go ahead and shoot!
Our course “Making the Ask” will guide you through how to make a confident ask of your donors and take those shots, strategically.
Your Fundraising Tips
What fundraising tips would you add to this list? What questions do you still have about political campaign fundraising?
Add yours below and make sure to check out our complete list of NDTC fundraising courses to power your campaign with the tools and skills needed to be successful.