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Effective small dollar fundraising


How to Fundraise

For a political campaign, small dollar fundraising is sometimes more important than large donor solicitation. It clearly establishes your broad base of support among voters, since someone who donates five or ten dollars to your campaign will undoubtedly vote for you as well. For this reason, showing that you have an extensive base of small donors is a key sign of political viability.

There’s another huge benefit to small figure donations. They’re renewable. Large donors may immediately plunk down the maximum amount allowed for a federal or state campaign, but then they’re done. If you need more money later on in the campaign, there’s virtually no going back. 

Sure, large donors can still donate to a political action committee that is favorable toward your campaign, but you have no way of controlling how those dollars are spent or even the message that they are being used to disseminate. Donors who’ve donated the maximum to your campaign are also far less likely to donate another substantial sum to a PAC. This makes small dollar fundraising crucial to the long term success of your campaign, as someone who has donated $50 or $100 can and will likely do so again.

How To:

When approaching a large group of small dollar donors, the reason for them to donate needs to be clear, passionate and concise. Start by telling your potential donors what you want to accomplish and make sure that those goals are of interest to them. Your goals may focus on issues that the target audience already cares deeply about or, in an act of true leadership, you may be able to alert your audience to why they should care about issues that are not yet at the forefront of their minds.

Proceed by offering something in order to tie in their donation. Bumper stickers are a traditional favorite. Aside from being an incentive to donors, they help get your message out. Stickers and car decals can even be purchased individually on some websites for less than the average donation amount, though it is generally more cost effective to buy these in bulk.

Books can also be a great tie in. Sending your donors books that are in line with the key issues of your campaign or the core interests of your base is both a unique and effective way to procure small dollar donations. But be careful with the selection that you offer.

If you are a Republican candidate, your primary voter base is likely made up of a mixture of supporters of Huckabee, McCain, Hunter and other national candidates. Offering a biography of one candidate may likely alienate supporters of the others. In last year’s election campaign, Democratic candidates for Congress would not have offered their supporters biographies of any of the presidential candidates until after the primaries. But candidates can offer biographies of unifying figures. There’s little downside to offering a book on Ronald Reagan to Republicans or one about Franklin Roosevelt to Democrats. Informative books on key issues also speak well for your campaign.

Other items to incentivize your base may include Ten Commandment pins, environmental mugs, border patrol mugs or other merchandise that make a statement that’s in line with the beliefs of your core base and that is attractively presented.

In short, to set yourself up for success with small dollar fundraising, give donors a clear reason to support your candidacy and then provide attractive ancillary gifts in an attempt to seal the deal. The above suggestions work well for local, statewide and national campaigns and are just a few ways to develop a reliable base of support.