If you’re getting ready to run for office, but haven’t started making fundraising calls… this article is for you.

Likewise, if you’ve made a call here or there, but hated every second of it, read on.

Every political candidate needs to make fundraising calls.  You can’t get around it.  You can’t raise money just from events, or by hoping other people will do it for you.  You have to make calls.  You have to start early.  You have to keep with it.

You’re going to start making fundraising calls… today.  I’m going to help.  Get a cup of coffee, sit down, and get ready to start.  In 30 minutes, you’re picking up the phone and asking for money.  Here’s how to do it.

1st – Get Out Your Holiday Card List

That’s right… your holiday card list.  Get it out / print out a fresh copy and put in on your desk.  This is our target list.  If you, your family and / or your spouse is close enough to these people to send them a holiday card, you’re close enough to ask them for money for your campaign.

What’s that?  You don’t want to ask your friends?  You figured you’d ask “political” folks?  Bigwigs with deep pockets?  Sorry… it doesn’t work like that.  You’ve got to start with your family, your friends, your co-workers and colleagues first.  Then, and only then, do you have a shot at “political” money.

2nd – Set a Target for Each Person

Ok, you’ve got your list out.  Now, go down the list, and next to each person, write down how much you think they could afford to give to your campaign, if they really wanted to.  Not how much you think they will give, but how much you think they could give… if they really, really wanted to.

For instance, you may think your best friend from college will give you $200.  But you know she is making gobs of money as an investment banker, and could afford to give you $2,000 if she wanted to.  Write down $2,000, not $200.

Now, go down that list and cross off each number, and next to it, write down a higher number… at least 10% higher.  For your friend making $2,000, cross it off and write $2,500 (or $3,000).  That’s how much you are going to ask for.

Remember, if you ask someone for $100, it is unlikely they will say, “no, let me give you $250!”  They won’t talk you up.  If you ask for more that you think they can give, they can always talk you down, but they will never give you more than you ask for.  Shoot high.

3rd – Practice

Seriously.  Set your list aside, unplug the phone from the wall (or turn off your cell phone, if that is what you are using) and use the dead receiver to practice making calls.

Successful fundraising calls are usually no more than ten minutes long.  Tell the person who is calling, why you are calling, why you are running, why you need the money, and make an ask.

I’m going to quote my wife when I tell you, “It’s only weird if you make it weird.”  If you act like calling old Jim-Bob, who you haven’t seen in two years, to ask him for money is the most normal and regular thing you ever done… well, it will be.  If you act like it is weird, and hem and haw and apologize for having to make the call and make the ask, it will be weird.  Don’t make it weird.  Just make the call.

Before you dial, spend 10 minutes practicing your shtick:

“Hi, this is Quinn.  Yea, it’s been awhile.  How are you and Nikki doing?  Great, us too.  Listen, I’ve got the craziest news.  I’m running for Congress.  Yep, how about that?  I’m getting involved because I am so frustrated with the economic mess we’re in.  It seems like no one is focused on the economy.  You know me, I’m laser-focused.  That’s how I’ll be in Congress.  Laser-focused on the economy.

It’s going to take $2 million to win this thing, crazy, I know, but true.  I need your help.  Would you be willing to support me, and donate $1,000 to help me win?  You would?  Amazing.  Thank you so much.  I’ll send over a brochure and an envelope.  Listen, I have to make more calls, let’s catch up next month.  See you soon….”

It’s only weird if you make it weird, and the more you practice, the easier and more natural it will become.

4th – Make Your Calls

That’s right, it’s time to jump in.  You’ve got a list.  You know how much you are asking each person to donate.  You’ve practiced your spiel.  Don’t procrastinate now.  Don’t take a break to read the newspaper, watch TV, or answer e-mails.  Plug the phone back in and make a call.

Start with someone who can’t say no… your dad, your best friend, that guy who owes you big time… whoever it is, build your confidence by calling someone who will definitely say “yes.”  Then keep going… work down that list.  If someone isn’t home, leave a message, and then call back tomorrow.  Keep calling back.  Work though the entire list.  Make calls every day, and it will get easier and easier.

See, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

If you want to go more in-depth on how to make asks, read: Political Fundraising 101 and Advanced Political Fundraising: How to Make an Ask.