Sometimes, those of us who work in politics get tied to thinking “inside the box.” We follow the herd – using the same tried and true tactics in this campaign that we did in the last campaign, and in the campaign before that. Nowhere is this truer than in political fundraising.
In this article, we present seven creative political fundraising ideas for campaigns and candidates who are willing to think “outside the box.” I’m not saying you should reinvent the wheel… and all campaigns, no matter how large or small, should make sure the fundamentals are covered first: that means personal solicitation, events, major donor groups, etc. are all covered. But for those campaigns that are looking for some fresh new political fundraising ideas, here are seven you can try:
1. Chain Fundraising Letters
These work on the same principal as those old fashioned annoying chain letters: sent out 500 letters to your supporters, asking them each to send in $5 and to forward the letter to 10 friends with a personal note asking their friends to send in $5 and forward the letter on as well.
2. Certified Mailing
Here’s a unique political fundraising idea for direct mail: send out a mailing to your top donors asking for major contributions – include some breaking news, like recent poll results – and send it out certified mail (this costs more money, but generates tons of excitement and gets through the clutter and straight to the decision maker). Tell your top contributors you need immediate donations to act on the breaking news you included in the letter. **Please note: only send these mailings to office / work addresses. If you send a certified letter to a residential address, and no one is home to sign for it, they may have to drive to the post office to pick up your letter — and they may be really mad for having to do so!
3. TV Ad Role Auction
Is your campaign running TV spots? At your next big event, auction off the chance for the winner to have a walk-on role in the ad.
Walk-a-thons, read-a-thons, dance-a-thons: they work well for non-profit fundraising, why not for political fundraising? Ask your supporters to solicit pledges and participate in an a-thon for your campaign
5. Family Events
Events are a staple of campaigns, but too many are plain cocktail parties and rallies. For your next event, use this political fundraising idea: hold a family-friendly event, like a barbeque or roller skating party. Keep the cost low, and charge per family, not per individual. Keep costs low, and make extra money by finding individuals to sponsor the event.
6. Money Bombs
These are becoming a standard fundraising technique among conservative and liberal grassroots groups, so why not adapt them to your campaign? Set a doable fundraising goal for a concrete purpose (for example, raising $1,500 to buy yard signs or $20,000 to buy TV ads) and tell people you want to raise the money all on a single day, and all through your website. Promote this “money bomb” for several weeks with as much hoopla and energy as you can.
7. Multi-Donation Commitments
This political fundraising idea works particularly well for individual one-to-one asks. Take a page from non-profit fundraising and instead of asking a supporter to make a $500 donation, ask him to make a $1,000 donation spread out for the whole year – get his credit card number, and bill him $250 per quarter for 4 quarters (or $84 per month). Often, people will give more because it is spread out. Offer them great recognition for moving up to a higher level of giving.
Keep it Legal
Remember, no matter what political fundraising ideas you are using, be sure to keep your fundraising legal by knowing and following the relevant laws and regulations in your area!