Cover Story: Political Direct Marketing 2004
The lead paragraph of that historic e-mail read: “In just a few minutes, I will announce that Senator John Edwards will join me as my running mate on the Democratic ticket as a candidate for vice president of the United States. Teresa and I could not be more excited that John and Elizabeth Edwards will be our partners in our journey to make America stronger at home and respected in the world.”
The Kerry-Edwards campaign raised $3.3 million online in the first three days following the big announcement and, as of July 20, JohnKerry.com remained the campaign’s top fundraiser with more than $65 million in 2004. All told, the campaign raised $36.5 million in the month of June (the most recent month of data available), $99.2 million in the second quarter of 2004, more than $160 million in 2004 and a democratic record-breaking $186 million for the entire primary campaign. Of the total amount raised, $171 million (92 percent) came from individual contributors, large and small.
Internet fundraising played a pivotal role, forcing many to forget how throughout most of 2003 Kerry raised only about $1 million online, while former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean raked in tens of millions.
“It’s clearly a huge vehicle for us. The Internet is the quickest way to get a message out to millions of people at hardly any expense,” says Nancy Eiring, national director of grassroots fundraising for John Kerry for President, Inc. “We noticed that our online donors were making more $100 contributions than $1,000 or $2,000 contributions. We knew there was this grassroots momentum happening where people wanted to give what they could, even if it was just a $25 check.”
Eiring says the Kerry campaign created her position to fashion coordinated direct mail, e-mail, telemarketing and online-advertising efforts aimed at low-dollar audiences — anyone who gave $1,000 or less. In engaging this key constituency on the grassroots level, and online, Kerry moved beyond simply relying on large events and large checks, as he did throughout most of 2003. (This year, 90 percent of contributions were less than $250; 40 percent were less than $50.)