Time and money are two of the most valuable and essential things that political organizers need to run a successful campaign. Suffice it to say, it’s a big ask to get supporters to contribute either. But Americans are making more and more political donations, and tapping into this opportunity is crucial for Democratic and progressive campaigns.

No one tactic can guarantee success for every campaign, but there are a few standards that can guide fundraisers towards strong, sustainable programs. Follow these six dos and don’ts: 

DO: Connect With Donors With Value-Based Messaging

Fostering a personal connection with donors is half the work of political fundraisers. There’s no compelling reason for supporters to donate if they're disinterested in or ambivalent about the campaign.  

Consider what it takes for a supporter to donate:

  • Does the supporter know what the goal of the fundraiser is? 
  • Does the supporter understand how their donation helps to achieve that goal? 
  • Why does the supporter need to donate now, as opposed to later? 
  • If the supporter has already donated, why should they make another donation? 
  • What are the stakes if the supporter does not donate? 

Facts and figures are great ways to provide substantive data in an appeal, but political fundraising with a focus on values can inspire a supporter to take action. 

DON’T: Rely on Guilt

When times feel urgent, using guilt as a tactic to raise donations is tempting. While this may be successful with some donors, guilt-tripping will ultimately create unsustainable supporter relationships. 

Consider this: how many times will a supporter be receptive to guilt-based messaging? They might donate once or twice. But after a while, they won’t be receptive to the message. In fact, they might begin to have a negative view of the campaign based on this guilt-based messaging.

In the end, campaigns should follow the value-based approach outlined above to drive sustained support. Recurring donors contribute 42% more donations than one-time donors per year, so aim for positive and dynamic fundraising appeals! 

DO: Get Specific With Your Ask

Campaigns should avoid any vague language or requests when making political fundraising appeals. Realistically, many supporters won’t consider interest in a campaign or a cause as a high-priority consideration in their everyday lives. Keep the fundraising appeal short and simple, so supporters know how and where to donate. 

Most importantly, fundraising teams should be specific about a donation amount in their ask. Supporters will easily understand an appeal that requests a contribution of $5, $10, or $20 to support a candidate that aims to advance workers’ rights. On the other hand, a request from a campaign asking supporters to donate to support workers’ rights is harder to understand. 

As with any request, specificity on expectations or needs will produce more results than a nondescript appeal.

DON’T: Use a Generic Script

Any successful political fundraising program should have segmented donor lists. At a minimum, campaigns should segment donors into four basic groups:

  • Potential donors
  • First-time or one-time donors
  • Recurring donors
  • Donors who used to donate but have stopped contributing

Creating different groups based on giving history allows fundraising teams to tailor messaging based on a supporter’s relationship to the campaign. For example, fundraising teams wouldn’t want to prompt someone to become a recurring donor if they were already donating monthly. 

Plus, specific messaging scripts can also go a long way to make supporters feel appreciated. Campaigns can thank donors for their past contributions based on giving history in fundraising appeals. Personalized messages will really show appreciation for donations!

DO: Use Relational Organizing to Power More Donations

Relational organizing (prompting friends and family to take action) isn’t only effective for advocacy and get-out-the-vote efforts. Relational organizing is also an effective way to introduce others to a cause and expand donor lists.

The first step to getting existing supporters to talk to their friends and family is to ask them to segment out their contacts. Who of their relational contacts are the most likely to donate, and who needs more convincing? Are there specific issues that will appeal to some contacts more than others?

Once supporters have sorted their contacts into different categories, campaigns can support their outreach by creating specific scripts for each situation. Providing messaging scripts for outreach will make it easier for supporters to know what to say. Supporters can even personalize the messages to best fit their own messaging style.

Friends and Family Messaging on Impactive allows supporters to fill reports on their synced contacts and provide insight like issue interest on their friends and family. With this information, campaigns can create political fundraising scripts for text, email, social media DM, and calls that automatically populate for supporters. Supporters can send dozens of relational messages an hour! 

DON’T: Only Focus on Political Fundraising 

Political fundraising is important, but money isn’t the only thing that campaigns need. Volunteering time is also a great way for supporters to contribute to a campaign. Once a campaign establishes an open line of communication with a supporter, fundraising teams should leverage this opportunity to invite the supporter to join an upcoming volunteer event, like a phone or text bank. 

And don’t forget — if someone isn’t able to donate, it’s crucial to respect that decision. There are valid reasons why someone isn’t able to donate. So, offer alternatives to donating, like volunteer opportunities, which can also bring much-needed support for a campaign. 

Political fundraising does require a lot of effort and strategy, but these guidelines can help campaigns reach out to donors effectively. Ultimately, fundraising comes down to positive relationships between the campaign and its supporters. As long as fundraising teams remember this, they’ll be successful in sustaining their campaign! 

Mar 18, 2022
Tools & Tech