Meet Your Mission
Gotta Grasp the Moment
BY NANCY EIRING
Political fundraising is unique to traditional, nonprofit, cause-driven fundraising. It has a deadline — an election — and an identified enemy — the opponent. These factors make it somewhat easier. But campaigns go through peaks and valleys, highs and lows. And that makes political fundraising more challenging. Factors such as the media, polling, ads and the issues also affect how money comes in the campaign’s door.
Twenty years, even 10 or five years, ago people didn’t have as many news outlets as there are today. We live in a world with a 24-hour cable and Internet news cycle. This means staying one step ahead of the news cycle and having your fundraising be in the “moment.” You have to anticipate these moments and seize them. And because of technology, your donors and activists expect you to be there.
Channels such as online and telemarketing allow you to have time-sensitive messages that you can get to the donor quickly. Direct mail doesn’t. Because donors can be in any of these mediums, you must integrate messaging. Strategize all communication channels with a coherent message. Direct mail should have the over-arching message, and telemarketing and e-mails should bring the “expiration date” message.
What once was used to identify and target voters now is being used to target donors. Modeling and donor segmentation will maximize income and identify potential new donors. And quantitative and qualitative research will help define key fundraising messages as well as allow the targeting of messages to audiences and channels.
Political fundraising is a balance of giving people an inside view without giving too much away. And with the news cycle being what it is, you have to realize who your donors are — well-educated and in the know — and treat them accordingly. Political fundraisers understand the need to respond to attack ads, or create a field plan for “get out the vote” work, or even to buy pizza for the volunteers. If you do it right, you can speak to the state of the campaign, what needs to be done and what the donor can do to help.