The Great 2012 Political Fundraising Debate
“The way [Democrats and Republicans] are structuring their fundraising plans, the months leading up to the election, mail and phone is going to drive everything because the Internet and mobile are more reactionary,” Cubine says. “You get the opportunity to tell more of a story when you write a direct-mail letter and when you’re on the phone with someone. Telling the story and making the case for why you need to raise money far out from an election takes more time, requires more information than what you can generally put in an e-mail.
“So the plan is to bank what they can bank leading up to the elections, and then they know that people are probably going to go for the immediacy of online giving in the last two weeks,” she adds.
The panelists agreed that they are making concerted efforts to integrate everything much more tightly this time around. Ways they plan to do that include:
- Making sure there’s an opportunity to access any channel in direct mail — URLs, phone number, etc.
- Making sure that they follow up telemarketing calls with e-mails.
- Putting specific URLs on fulfillment information.
- Turning activists into givers when they can, online and offline.
Cubine adds that a key takeaway gleaned from the panelists is that telemarketing is the most successful medium for taking online activists and recruiting them into donors. So if you can get their phone numbers, give them a call.
Here are a few other keys Cubine shares from the discussion:
- Don’t believe the hype — “Don’t get sucked up into the cool, shiny object and distracted from what’s going to raise you the most money,” she says.
- Know the difference between donors and activists. “When you’re thinking about your market, it’s very important to know who are the people who are giving you money and supporting you financially, and who are the people you need to keep pushing for activism — because donors and activists can be the same, but often activists aren’t going to become donors,” Cubine says. “A donor might be an activist as well, but often for activists, activism is their contribution.”
- Learn from other organizations. “Organizations like the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee, Sierra Club, Environmental Defense Fund, they have big marketing departments, marketing membership professionals, consultants, so they have the capabilities to be testing and thinking and can afford to fail at things to find the next new thing, whereas smaller organization on a tighter shoestring maybe can’t,” she says. “It’s really beneficial to hear what other people are doing to benefit from the progress they’re making in the marketplace because [smaller organizations] may not have the staff or funding to do that type of aggressive testing.”