Nine Tips for Political Fundraising
We all do fundraising. But do we do our best? Here are Nine Tips:
1. Begin with the right attitude. When you approach someone for a donation, you’re giving them: a valuable opportunity to support you; a tangible way for them to promote the issues they believe in; and a means to participate in the wellbeing of their community in a meaningful way. Approach asking for money with this in mind, and you’ll convey confidence rather than appearing apologetic or hesitant.
2. Do your research. Know the basics about the individual you’re approaching, such as his/her giving history, issue interests, and profession, as well as the name of his/her spouse or partner.
3. Make a personal connection. Establish a friendly rapport that will facilitate not only your initial ask, but the basis of a continued relationship. If you have a friend in common, your children attend the same school, or you’ve both been publicly supportive of the local YWCA, make the connection. This will put you at ease, make the chat more conversational, and help gain the donor’s trust.
4. Make an ideological connection. This donor is a member of a local union and has fought vocally for collective bargaining and you are a tireless advocate of worker’s rights committed to doing the same once elected. Highlight this shared value, and make it clear why electing you—and defeating your opponent—will make a difference on this issue.
5. Communicate viability. People like to back the winning horse, or at least one that has a shot at the roses. Give a snapshot of how and why your cause can win. Share your fundraising success, key endorsements, and statistics that show your battle is winnable.
6. Make the donor relevant. By explaining what their support will mean to you, such as putting a radio spot on the air or funding a mailing, you are making support tangible and realistic for your prospective donor.
7. Make a specific ask and stop talking! Always have a specific contribution goal in mind before making contact. Ask for a specific dollar amount directly. Say “will you please give $500 to help us?” rather than “I’m hoping you will give…” or “will you consider giving…” Hoping the donor will give implies she doesn’t need to answer you right now. Offering her the option to “consider” giving is easy, who wouldn’t “consider” it? And then after you’ve made your ask, be quiet. Don’t try to fill the silence or lower your request to fill the void. Give the donor time to respond.
8. Have options available. If you request $500 and the donor balks, provide other options. You can ask her to become a sustainer, or give $100 a month for the next five months. You can provide additional incentives for the full gift by offering free tickets to your next event. You can ask the donor to give $200 and raise $300. Or you can simply lower your request. Don’t be afraid to negotiate, just keep it all donor-centric and know when to stop.
9. Say thank you and follow up. Express your appreciation and ensure that appropriate follow up—such as donation collection, mailing of a thank you note, and updates to your database—are conducted. You’ll be re-soliciting that donor before you know it!