Effective grassroots campaigns require money. Period. Too often the line is used – “we’re going to run a grassroots campaign so we won’t need as much money.” This is the recipe for a losing campaign.
We’ll start with the spending part – and how to spend our precious resources wisely.
There are five key budget rules.CLICK THROUGH EACH RULE AS YOU ARE DESCRIBING ITRule 1: Cost everything out. Assume it will always cost more. Has anyone here ever built or remodeled a house or apartment? If so, did it come in at or under the budget you started with in mind? Most house renovation projects say to building in 20-50% more for unanticipated costs. Most campaigns won’t need this large of a cushion, but most budgets build in an extra 5-10% overhead for the unanticipated extra cost.CLICKRule 2: Create a realistic budget. Budgets should grow, evolve and be flexible. It makes no sense to budget a campaign knowing that you will never raise the budget. Be realistic, and ambitious. Many campaigns create three budgets. The budget they think they will need to win – we’ll talk about that more in a few minutes – their Porsche budget (what they would spend if they raised more resources than expected – yes, this does happen sometimes in hotly contested marginal seats) – and the budget that you will run if the floor falls out on fundraising. We will hope this budget never sees the light of day, but it is valuable to be strategic in making your cuts, knowing that each cut makes it less likely that you will win.CLICKRule 3: Budgets reflect the priorities. If voter contact is your #1 priority your budget should reflect it. We’ll see this principle in raw numbers in a few minutes, but the key here is that budgets are your campaign strategy in numbers. It should reflect the priorities and the key strategies of your campaign.CLICKRule 4: Minimize overhead and maximize voter contact. Learn to say “NO” to fancy gizmos. Learning to say ‘no’ to wasteful spending is perhaps one of the greatest campaigner skills you can learn. As a campaigner I love to collect all of those gizmos – the buttons, the sponges, the pillboxes, the football schedules, the beer cozies, the sweaters and jackets and ball caps and …. Follow the DBC rule – DON’T BUY CRAP! While this is simply said here, when we start looking at the way a budget is broken out this principle takes on even greater importance.CLICKRule 5: Pay bills and avoid debt. Having debt and not meeting payroll is usually the sign of bad planning. This may go without saying, but it is often overlooked. If you can’t run your campaign without going into debt, what do you think voters will think about your ability to run government?
The details within each of these budget categories is less important than the overall message and breakdown.Here is a typical campaign budget broken down by major budget category and the relative spending as a percent of the total budget. This breakdown carries across effective, winning campaigns regardless of their size. It is true for city council to state legislature to Barack Obama’s $800 million 2008 presidential campaign. The raw dollar numbers may increase, but the percentages remain roughly the same.Voter Contact. This is all of the ways that you contact voters through direct voter contact and paid media. It is the single most important part of the campaign and the budget should reflect it. The target should be 65-75% of your total campaign budget going to voter contact, communicating with and persuading and turning out voters.Research. This is for public opinion polling mostly, although it can also go for subscriptions to weeklies in the district and other forms of research – e.g. checking through paid database searches for the candidate or opponent. The target here is 2-5%. The danger on some campaigns is that they spend an enormous amount of money on polling but have no money left over to do anything with it. One state campaign had a $115,000 budget and spent $35,000 on tracking polls. They had lots of data in the closing days of the campaign on where they stood in the horse race but no money left to actually change the occasion. For many small races, like you in this room, it should be between 1-2%!Fundraising. Grassroots fundraising takes money to raise money. You should not spend over 10% of your budget raising money. No spending money on open bars and fancy food and invites, save money for fundraisers so you can get the most money for the campaign. George W. Bush didn't do much we like, but his fundraiser for $25,000 per person that served hot dogs, burgers and popcorn – very smart! The money they raised went to the campaign, not to feeding donors!
The rest of your budget – less than 20% -- covers everything else, from staff, office space, and all of those gizmos including lawn signs, buttons, and t-shirts. The importance of these benchmarks for budget allocation is important for disciplining campaign spending and ensuring that your money is spent wisely.
So we need to spend our money wisely – we also need to raise it smartly.Fundraising is hard work, I won’t lie to you about that! So let’s spend a few minutes talking about how we can do effective grassroots fundraising.
So what do you think the secret is to successful fundraising?Take some answers from people. People might say – you have to ask? You have to know rich people? The party has to raise it for you. You have to know the right people!You know some of the those things you mentioned are good tools to help ease the process, but in reality:CLICKThere is no secret!CLICK
Truly you have to ask: A lot of people for A lot of money in A lot of different ways A lot of times.Then you have to do it all over again.Fundraising is the process of systematically collecting names of potential contributors and then identifying why that potential contributor would give money, how much they can give, and who is the best person from the campaign to ask for the money. The candidate and the campaign should target donors in the same way that they target voters.
So … ask – How many of you have raised money before for a campaign?”Then ask: How many of you like raising money?Typically only a few hands will go up. Ask a few of these people what they like about it. Have they always liked to raise money?For those who indicate they do not like asking for money – ask them why. What does it feel like? Or what makes you uncomfortable?For many people it is uncomfortable asking people for money – it is something private, or feels like begging, etc.This session will be about how to both raise money effectively, and how to spend it wisely. Fundraising is not a mystery, there are actual rules and systems to raising money in democratic campaigns – it’s not just for experts – or rich people.But it does require thoughtful planning and designated staff.
Once we have broken down the total amount into the levels of giving, we can start thinking about the mechanisms for giving. Here is where we start discussing the different tools in your fundraising tool box. Funds can be solicited using one or more tools: Personal solicitation, Finance Committee, events, organizational donors, direct mail, the internet, or telemarketing.1) Personal solicitation can be a face-to-face meeting or telephone conversation in which the candidate or another principal of the campaign (a spouse, family member, surrogate, finance director, or manager) personally asks the donor for a campaign contribution. The most effective of these is when the candidate asks personally, either in person, over the phone or through a personal letter. A finance committee and/or surrogates are supporters who agree to raise a specific amount of money for the campaign, party or organization. By soliciting their own circle of friends, relatives, and colleagues, surrogates can bring new sources of support to the campaign and play a key role in helping the campaign reach its fundraising goals. As much as surrogates can open up new fundraising sources, they are not a tool. Rather, they will use the same fundraising tools to raise money for the campaign that the campaign does. Their participation can help the campaign realize its fundraising goals, but the amount they pledge to raise should not be counted on until it comes in. Be careful not to double-count money to be raised by surrogates, since many of them will raise through events.Events can also be an option for raising money - Large or small gatherings of donors for the purpose of financially supporting the candidate. Donors agree to make a contribution at the advertised price of admission. The problem is that events often cost money. A good rule of thumb is that fundraising costs, for events, or frankly, any other item on this list, should be between 10-12% of the total money raised. Why do an event when paying for food and drink and locations cost money, when a personal call from the candidate could raise more money at a fraction of the cost.Organisations: Depending on the rules and laws in a country, sometimes organisations can give funds to support candidates and campaigns. For instance in the United States, they are called Political Action Committees and are formed by people who support key issues, or regions, or ethnicities, or business. In Australia many trade unions contribute to both local and national campaigns. AS long as they follow the reporting and fundraising laws, they can contribute to political campaigns.Soliciting funds over the internet is a mass appeal technique much like direct mail, with one very important difference: time. Internet solicitations take less time to produce and have a faster response time, with contributions coming in within 48 hours of your request. This exceptional fundraising tool should be used regularly, especially for urgent appeals. Constantly look for ways to grow your in-house email list to make the most of this option – but in NO WAY should this replace personal solicitation.
So now that we know the tools of the trade, let’s think about why people give?What is the #1 reason people give to a campaign, or a candidate or a political party?Ask for answers
Much of what you said is part of it, but it is more simple – it is because they are ASKED to give, by the right person and the right time!Many people believe fundraising is another word for begging. This notion is perhaps the single greatest obstacle to successful fundraising, and leads candidates, staff, and volunteers to avoid the most critical and essential activity in the campaign: asking for money. A donor’s contribution is not an act of kindness, nor is it a personal favor. People contribute to a campaign because they want to and they get something out of it. Their contribution serves their needs — not the candidate’s, and not the fundraiser’s. Donors contribute when the fundraiser has identified their needs and demonstrated how they will benefit if the candidate is elected.
So let’s talk about the most effective tool to fundraising, apart from face to face, it’s candidate call time (and to be honest, these tips work for anyone on the campaign making direct asks)
So that is why people give – but most people will only give because they are asked.Here are a few tips for making an effective fundraising ask.Ask for a specific amount – e.g. $500. “As much as you can” Or “can you contribute” are too vague and actually are unhelpful to a potential donor. So, you make your ask – “Can I count on a $500 contribution?” – and then you stop, some fundraisers say take a sip of water because you can’t talk when you are drinking, and wait for the response.One of the biggest obstacles for successful fundraising is that we don’t allow silence and to fill the silence we start to negotiate against ourselves. We start to say – if not $500, maybe $250 – or $100 – or whatever you can right now.
So once you have made your ask – wait for a response and listen.Here ask participants to answer how they would respond to each response. Then click on the response.If the person says “Not that much” – negotiate. If not $500, how about $300?If the person is not ready – call them back – or ask them what is holding them back.If the person needs more info – provide it to them and then follow up later.
So the conclusion is the difference between rags and riches, between empty pockets and a pile of gold is hard work, good organization, and a good plan to make it happen.
Developing a CampaignBudget and Fundraising Plan Spending Smart, Raising SmartWellstone Action
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Developing a Campaign Budget Spending SmartWellstone Action
5 Key Budget RulesRule 1: Cost everything out. Assume it will always cost more.Rule 2: Create a realistic budget. Budgets should grow,evolve and be flexible.Rule 3: Budgets reflect the priorities. If voter contactis your #1 priority your budget should reflect it.Rule 4: Minimize overhead and maximize voter contact.Learn to say “NO” to fancy gizmos.Rule 5: Pay bills and avoid debt. Having debt and notmeeting payroll is usually the sign of bad planning.Wellstone Action
Prioritizing Your Budget Direct Voter Research Fundraising Admin ContactBuild your budget around Direct Voter Contact phase first, then figure out the staffing and overheadForces you to focus on the core of your campaign first while building your budgetWellstone Action
Developing Your Fundraising Plan: Raising SmartWellstone Action
What’s the secret of successful fundraising?Answer: There is No Secret!Wellstone Action
Answer: There is No Secret! You have to ask • a lot of people for • a lot of money in • a lot of different ways • a lot of times. Then you have to do it again!Wellstone Action
Fundraising Myths • Political fundraising is charity • Only the rich give • Fundraising is schmoozing • The usual suspects • It’s rude to ask more than onceWellstone Action
Successful F/R requires: 1. Hard Work. 2. Organization. 3. A Good Plan.Wellstone Action
1. It’s Hard Work! • Time – FR isn’t “when I can get to it” • Commitment – Is the difference you will make in the lives of the people you will represent worth someone writing out a check for themselves? • Confidence – Don’t let fear or assumptions stopWellstone Action you from asking.
2. You must be organized• Know the rules – Filing Dates, Donation limits, etc…• Create, maintain and update databases – Donors, Follow-up, Thank-you’s• Find a fundraising space – An office within an office, a desk …• Make sure you have your materials – Call sheets, reply envelopes, thank you letters, the ability to research donors i.e., InternetWellstone Action
3. Fundraising PlanRule: If it isn’t written down, it’s not a plan. • How much is needed and how will you raise? • When is it needed? When will you raise it? • Where will you raise it? • Who will raise it from whom? • What will it cost to raise it?Wellstone Action
Breaking it down 20 x = $10,000 $500 30 x $250 = $7,500 125 x $100 = $12,500200 x $50 = $10,000Wellstone Action
Fundraising Toolbox • Personal Solicitation Candidate call time Individual meetings Personal mail • Finance Committee • Events High dollar and Low dollar events • PAC’s • OnlineWellstone Action
Applying the Tools Response Donor Time Cost Cash Tool Rate Level Candidate Staff Ratio FlowFace to Face 50-70% High High High 1-5% 1 to 7 DaysTelephone 30-50% Medium- High High 1% 1 to 7Solicitation High Days Events 15%-25% ALL Medium High 10-25% 4 weeks Cold 1% Low Low Med 75-100% 6 Prospect weeks Mail Wellstone Action
Applying the Tools (Cant) Response Donor Time Cost Cash Tool Rate Level Candidate Staff Ratio FlowResolicitation 4-10% ALL Low Med 10-15% 6 Mail WeeksTelemarketing 1-10% Low- Low Med 10-15% 1 to 3/ Prospecting Medium weeks Internet 1% or less Low- Low Med 1% 72 Prospecting Medium hours Internet 1-5% Low- Low Med 1% 72Resolicitation Medium hours Wellstone Action
Personal Circle• Who: – Candidate’s family members, friends, professional colleagues• When: If you can’t ask – First friends, family & supporters for• Message: money, – You know me and this Don’t Run! is important to meWellstone Action
Ideology Circle• Who: – People who share your causes or advocacy of a cause• When: – Early• Message: – Together we can change the worldWellstone Action
Ax-to-grind Circle• Who: – People who dislike and want to defeat opponent• When: – Early, but need to show some viability• Message: – Not the other guyWellstone Action
Power Circle• Who: – People who want to be in the play to protect and advance their economic interests People give for• When: their own reasons; – Late We’re not begging charity!• Message: – Going to winWellstone Action
Candidate Call Time 1. Must be scheduled – and kept to. 2. How many hours per day/week? 3. Must have someone with candidate 4. Have an organized “paper process.” 5. Stick to core of script with some flex.Wellstone Action
“The Pitch” 1. Introduction 2. Connection • Establish rapport – your connection 3. Benefit • Why it matters to the person • Why it’s necessary to win 4. Direct Ask 5. Wait 6. React depending on responseWellstone Action 7. Thanks and follow up
“The Ask”• Ask for a specific amount: – “Can you contribute $400 to my campaign?” – “Would you be able to make a contribution of $400?” – “The maximum you can give is $400. Would you be able to contribute that amount?”You are doing the person a favor to askfor a specific amount – but then …Wellstone Action Sip a glass of water!
ZIP IT UP AND LISTEN!“Not that much” Negotiate “Not ready” Call Back“Need more info” Provide it “NO” Why?Wellstone Action
OR Depends on hard work, good organization, and a good plan to make it happen.Wellstone Action