If you’re running or thinking of running for office, there are bound to be lots of questions running through your head. One question, though, is probably at the forefront. First time candidates and political pros alike start each election cycle with the same query: where will I find the money I need to win this election?
Fundraising for seed money for your campaign can be a difficult process. Often, first time candidates face a particularly problematic catch-22: without a warchest, it is difficult to be taken as a serious contender, yet without being seen as a serious contender, it is hard to build a sizeable warchest. It is possible, however, to raise the money you need to start your campaign off with a bang. Here are five of the best places to find start-up capital for your political campaign:
1. Personal Savings
If you don’t plan to contribute anything to your own campaign, how can you expect anyone else to? Many potential contributors will scoff at financing a first-time candidate who won’t even donate to his or her own campaign. Of course, you needn’t go broke contributing to your campaign, and different candidates have different size bank accounts – but you simply must give something before you can expect others to do the same.
2. Friends and Family
Starting a political campaign is a lot like starting a business. And much like a new business owner seeking start-up funds, a new candidate should first tap those who he or she knows best. Approach family, friends, and business contacts – your entire network. Those who know you are more likely to support your candidacy financially than those who don’t know you.
3. Past Donors
If you’ve run for office before, be sure to contact all of the people who gave to your last campaign, whether you won or lost. They have already invested in you and your political career, and they want you to do well, so they are very likely to give to your campaign again.
If you’ve never run for office before, try to get the names and contact information for donors to other past candidates in your area who were similar in ideology to you. For example, if you are a conservative Republican and the local mayor is a conservative Republican as well, see if he’ll let you borrow his donor list for a one-time mailing. People who are willing to open their pocketbooks for candidates similar to you are likely to open them for you as well.
4. Your Opponent’s Enemies
If you are challenging an incumbent or have a well-known opponent, chances are he or she has made some people mad in the past. These people, your opponent’s political “enemies,” are likely to give to your campaign early, because they want to see you do well and beat the candidate they simply don’t like. Call on them personally and offer them an alternative to “the other guy.”
5. Your Friends’ Friends
People are more likely to give money to a cause when someone they know and trust asks for it personally. Gather your family, best friends and closest contacts together and ask them to solicit donations for your campaign from within their own circles. Give them the materials they will need to do this, including what to say, how to collect the money, and a goal for what they should raise.
For example, your brother could work his buddies at the bar by telling them his big brother is running for state rep, and would they be willing to chip in $25 each? Your uncle could let his contacts at work know that you are running, and ask the boss to hold a fundraiser for you. Your best friend who is a member of the local chamber of commerce and friends with most of the members could mail each one a letter asking for a $100 donation. The list goes on and on…
Remember, in order to start strong you’ll need to start early. Use these five tactics to start raising the money you need to win early, and you’ll be off to a great start. And… if you are just starting your campaign, be sure to a copy of Local Victory’s Complete Guide to Getting Your Campaign Off the Ground.