Starting fundraising is tough!
Whether we like it or not, money is the Mothers-Milk of politics. You may not need to have a lot but you're going to need at least a little bit to run for office. Starting fundraising can be daunting but we're here to help you out! (Post continues below video!)
You can find out exactly how much by looking at campaign finance reports and expenditures for whatever race you're looking at. But, for you, the question is, "How do I start this process?"
Well, the first place you start is actually with your Christmas Card list!
Where do I start?
I recommend candidates start by answering the 3 Whys:
- Why are you running?
- Why are you seeking this specific office?
- Why are you the best person for the job?
Once you understand those three whys, then you're going to start building your Christmas Card list. Starting to compile your list before you've nailed down your Whys isn't a big deal but you definitely don't want to start calling and asking for donations yet.
Making your List
That's literally just making a spreadsheet and writing down everyone you know. All first-level contacts should be included. If they'll recognize your name when it comes up on the caller ID or you introduce yourself, put them on the list.
Get their contact information, some reminders about your relationship and make an estimate of how much they can comfortably contribute.
At the bottom of the spreadsheet, total this donation goal up and see what your friends could donate as a whole! I think you'll be surprised by how far the Christmas Card list can take you.
Checking it Twice
If you're running for office, you probably have a strong network of people you know and that will likely translate into a pretty good number from your Christmas Card list. Don't get lazy though and only include some people. This list is your gold mine and you need to make sure it's complete. Feel free to tier the list by priority or the intimacy of your relationship.
Now, you may only raise 75-80% of your goal total but it's still going to be significant and will help you with starting fundraising. Plus, I guarantee you that some people will surprise you with how much they're willing to give! By starting fundraising with those people closest to you, you'll be able to work out the kinks in your donor pitch early and hone it with people who already believe in you.
Who's Naughty and Nice?
When you call through the list, add in notes about your call: What parts of your pitch did you feel good about vs. need changing? How much money did they pledge? What issues are they most motivated by?
You need every bit of information that you can gather. The reason is that this is the beginning, not the end, of a donor relationship. Your communication with them will be ongoing and you'll likely ask them for money in the future.
If someone declines to donate on this first round, mark down why. If it's for reasons other than they don't want you to be elected (such as money being tight, etc) then write down a date to call them back and try a gain.
Why I Love this Approach
Starting fundraising is rarely fun. I hate asking for money. But when we believe in something, and know it requires money to accomplish, we've got to fight through to the goal. Using your friends and family as the jumpstart, you're starting fundraising while hardly thinking about it. It's easy and will help your campaign in so many ways!