We’ve been talking about some of the things that need to be done before you step out your front door as a candidate. Last week we discussed your preliminary budget.
Today a few words about your fundraising plan when running for office. Yes you need one. It cannot be done on the fly.
The first rule of fundraising? Know the rules. If you don’t, find someone who does. Make sure you know what the contribution limits are, who you are allowed to take money from, when and how you are required to report your contributions and expenditures, what you are required to divulge about your contributors, your vendors and your staff.
The second rule of fundraising? Don’t let anyone on your staff raise or deposit money until they have been fully briefed on the rules.
And rule number three? Obey the rules. You are running to be a lawmaker. If during the course of a campaign you are exposed as a law breaker, it will not advance your career.
There are four general sources of campaign contributions.
Tier One: Family and Friends-they are the ones you ask first. They are your easiest sources of money. Your parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, their spouses and their children. Don’t want to ask your family for money? Then don’t run. If you’ve asked all your relatives and none are willing to help, rethink what you are doing.
Once you’ve asked every relative you can find, then go to your friends. High school classmates, college classmates, people who attend your church, members of clubs and organizations you belong to, acquaintances, people on your Christmas card list, in your contact list, the people you do business with— your barber, hairdresser, plumber, mechanic, dry cleaner, attorney, doctor, dentist, wine merchant.
If you can’t remember all the people you do business with, go back through your checkbook and look at all the people you paid for something during the last two or three years. Finally, go through the yellow pages and look at the occupations. Chances are you’ll remember the name of somebody who sold you a computer, fixed the one you have, sold you flowers, your golf clubs, your insurance, your car, your new stove, or the real estate agent that sold you your house.
Tier Two: People who should want to give you money. These are people, interest groups and ideological organizations that agree with your platform, your cause and your agenda, or ideological organizations that agree with your issue positions. Where do you find these people and organizations? Pour over the contribution records of candidates who have previously sought the office you are now seeking. Look at the contribution records of candidates who hold positions similar to yours.
Tier Three: People who can be persuaded to support you if you are running a good campaign. Even well-healed groups aren’t going to give a lot of money to someone with no chance of winning. However, once your campaign is on track and you are in the news, you’ll find there are plenty of people who may be willing to help you. How do you find them? Start with the people who have already invested in your campaign. Here is a pretty good rule of thumb. Anybody who has given you a thousand dollars knows two who can give you $500. So once you have determined what you can raise from the Tier one and Tier Two groups, estimate what they can bring in through their friends and connections, and make it easy for them to help. They can make a direct request of their friends, send emails on your behalf, or write letters, or host dinner and cocktail parties. They will need ammunition in order to help you raise money…good newspaper clippings, some promising poll numbers—things that prove you’ve made progress and that you have a good chance of winning.
Tier Four: People who despise your opponent. If your opponent is an incumbent, chances are they have made a decision or cast a vote that upset a constituent or an interest group or somebody who has a fat checkbook. Let them know they have a compelling interest in stopping this dangerous person from holding public office, and the surest way to do that is by giving a donation to your campaign.
These are the common sources of money. When you have done your homework, and estimated the amount of money you can raise from each tier, you have the beginnings of a fundraising plan. Once you have numbers by Tier, you can then decide how to bring it in, Candidate Solicitation, Surrogate Solicitation, Direct Mail, E-mails and Internet Fundraising, Cocktail Parties, Dinner Parties, Large and Celebrity Events.
Have Questions? Call me at 845-458-1210.
If you’d like a copy of a more detailed fundraising plan from my book, email me at Jay@JayTownsend.com. I’ll send it to you. Just put fundraising plan into the subject line.
Last Week’s Video: Running for Office? Preparing for the Campaign: Your Preliminary Budget
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Political consultant Jay Townsend works with smart, passionate candidates who want to run for office, win elections and make a difference. He has successfully helped candidates learn how to run for the U.S. Senate, how to run for Congress, how to run for Mayor and develop a winning campaign marketing strategy.
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