The Myth: All you need to raise money for a political campaign is send emails or run Facebook ads. The Truth: If you want to win an election, you have to be involved in raising it.

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There is a myth about how money is raised for a political campaign. The notion is that all you need to do is send emails or run Facebook ads, and you’ll quickly have all the money you need to run for office. It doesn’t work that way. It takes money to prospect for donors. It takes money to run ads. It takes money to rent or buy donor lists. What we call investment capital. If you want to win an election, you’ll have to be involved in raising it. And to properly prepare for a political campaign you need to make a list of people that you are going to ask for money.

Here’s where you begin to raise money for your political campaign:
Task 1: Before you do anything else, make sure you know what the rules are.

Federal candidates are governed by federal law. Each state has a different set of rules for state offices. Some counties and cities have yet another set of rules for local offices. Those rules govern who can contribute and who can’t, the amount donors can give, the information you must report, when and how those reports are filed. Once you know the rules, abide them to the letter. If you get caught breaking them you will have a bad day.

Task 2: Inventory the people you know. And divide them into two categories.

Those who are family, relatives and close friends. And those who know you and like you, acquaintances with whom you have a good relationship.

Where do you find them? Start by looking at the names in the contact list on your smart phone. Then check your LinkedIn connections and Facebook friends. Next, go through your high school and college year books, your holiday card list. Think about the places you’ve worked, the jobs you’ve held, and jot down the names of those you worked or collaborated with.

If you own a company or business, make a list of suppliers or people you purchased items from. Think of the civic and charitable organizations or clubs you have been involved with, or members of your church with whom you are acquainted.

When you have completed the lists, jot down the amount of money you are willing to ask them for, based upon what you know about their ability to give. Not all of the money you raise will come from these two lists. But these two lists are a key source of your investment capital.

Some Tips:
  • When you call or visit the people on your list, tell them how much you’d like them to give. A specific number. If you don’t, they won’t know and you will not get what you want.
  • Don’t be afraid of asking too much. If they can’t give you what you ask for they’ll tell you.
  • Do not use script on your call. These are people you know, and if you sound like you are reading a script, they’ll wonder what’s wrong with you.
  • If someone you call says no, don’t take it personally. Move on to the next name.
  • If they ask you why you’re running, have a good answer about what you want to do, the cause you are fighting for, and why you need the power to make it happen.
Task 3: Those who make a generous contribution to you can help you raise a lot more money if you treat them well.

A gracious, handwritten thank you note is imperative. Make sure you keep them updated on your progress and good news about your campaign.

After they have been appropriately thanked, circle back and ask them if they would be willing to host a fundraiser, or dinner party, or email their friends on your behalf, or call their friends and raise money for you. This is the way you get your contributors to raise money from people they know that you don’t. Done well, during your political campaign you’ll be creating an ever increasing number of large donors.

It is also how you raise the seed money that you in turn can use to hire some staff, rent or buy donor small donor lists that you can email, or advertise on social media to begin developing a small donor list that is uniquely yours.

running for office

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.

How to win an election:

Running for office and knowing how to win an election is a challenge, especially for first time political candidates just learning how to run for office. Discerning the fine points of how to campaign, raise political contributions, and execute a political campaign strategy often requires the help of someone who has served as a political strategist or who has experience as a political consultant.

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