Political fundraising events are part of the mix for almost every campaign, no matter how large or small. Events can be a lot of work… between coordinating schedules and venue, sending out invitations, providing food and drink, setting-up and cleaning-up, campaigns can spend dozens of staff or volunteer hours prepping for a fundraising event.
Yet, many campaigns regularly leave money on the table, by failing to raise as much as they could at a given event. Because events can be so time consuming, it is important that political campaigns raise as much as possible from every fundraising event they hold. (For basic tips on hosting a great event, read 10 Steps to a Successful Fundraising Event).
Here are some great ways your campaign can raise more money at its next event:
Supersize Your Host Committee
The single best way to raise more money at your event is to put together a better, and larger, host committee. This means seeking out people who will actually make calls and send personal letters to get people to buy tickets and write checks for the event.
Remember – the primary purposes of the host committee are fundraising and ticket sales. The more people your campaign can find who are willing to raise money and sell tickets, and the better their personal networks are, the more money you will raise.
Supersize Your Event Structure
Instead of just offering tickets to your event (or tickets and a host committee level donation), offer several levels of sponsorship or tickets to allow people to give at different levels.
For example, if you’re hosting a cocktail event, try having a VIP reception for $500, standard tickets for $100, and a private dinner after the event for $1,000.
Be careful not to have too many levels though – I once saw a candidate host an event that had twelve different giving levels, each with slightly modified benefits – and it backfired. People were so confused that most just gave the minimum amount. Generally, limit your event to three or four levels.
Supersize Your Asks
First of all, remember that no one will write a major check for the event without being asked – usually by the candidate, an influential member of the host committee, or a personal friend or colleague. Big checks generally don’t come in just from sending out invitations. (For a primer on making asks, check out How to Make an Ask).
Second, remember that it is often easier to raise $1,000 from one person than it is to raise $100 from each of ten people. Try to include some bigger donors into your event as sponsors, hosts, or event chairs, and ask them to write major checks as part of that sponsorship. Finding a few key folks to get involved can really boost the bottom line of any political fundraising event.