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How to Raise Money for Political Campaigns

Updated on November 9, 2008

Whether you are managing a campaign or running a local group to support a candidate or piece of legislation, one of the most important assets you can provide is having strong fundraising skills. Success in a political campaign can often be linked back to the amount of funds available to the candidate or group. You don’t have to be a fundraising expert to successfully help a campaign raise money. A little knowledge can go a long way.

Begin Fundraising Early

The rule in politics is: “Pay as you go.” So you really need to start fundraising as soon as possible, even before your group goes public. Early fundraising is necessary if you are renting space, installing phones, ordering supplies, and purchasing advertising space. The strategy and quality of a campaign depends on the funds available.

A campaign that starts raising funds early shows that there are people supporting and investing in your political agenda.

Raising Money
Raising Money

Create a Fundraising Chairperson & Team

Fundraising responsibilities can take a lot of time and effort, so it is important to select a set team of people to handle these duties. Instead of having people work on raising funds, advertising, and recruitment, narrow the jobs down. This will make it easier for people to focus on their assignments and get a lot more accomplished.

Assign Fundraiser’s Tasks

The number of people you have working on the fundraising team will definitely depend on how big your campaign organization is and how much money you need to raise. You should choose a fundraising chairperson who is not also the budget chairperson. The budget chairperson is in charge of the money going out, while the fundraising chairperson is in chairperson is in charge of the money coming in. will split time between the budget (money going out) and fundraising (money coming in). By keeping these duties separate, you won’t have the same person worrying about bringing money also watching the details of disbursing it.

The Importance of Small Donations

You will hopefully get at least a few substantial contributions that may be the foundations of your campaign structure, but don’t rule out the importance of smaller donations. After all, a foundation alone doesn’t make a house complete. A steady flow of small donations is important. There are a number of ways to get these donations coming in. A good place to start is reading these two articles:

Raise Money with Grassroots Fundraising

Grassroots Fundraising - How to Do It

Get Money from Political Parties

A major source of funds for political campaigns is from partisan parties. When you go to a party for endorsement, you are asking for both financial backing and party support. Endorsement from a political party (like the Democratic, Republican, or Green parties) will often provide your campaign with access to the party’s allied organizations for more funding opportunities.

Ask, Ask, Ask!

The best way to get money is to ask for it. You can ask by mail, telephone, and face to face. Direct mail requests should go out early to everyone who might possibly be interested in supporting the campaign. At the same time you ask for monetary donations, you can also recruit volunteers and request other contributions (free printing, free paper, etc.). Keep track of everyone you ask for donations, and also track everyone who donates (and the amount they contribute).

Sell Small Items

Another facet of your fundraising can involve selling small items related to your campaign. You can sell buttons, bumper stickers, t-shirts, hats, posters, dinner tickets, benefit concert tickets, and just about anything else you can think of. Not only do selling these items and tickets bring in money, but they also help promote the campaign.

Offer Tax Deductions

If you are serious about fundraising for your campaign, you need to be able to offer tax deductions to those who contribute. The rules for how and when you can do this are always changing, so definitely contact the IRS for guidance.

File Campaign Finance Forms

There are different federal and state laws regarding the forms you have to file and the ways in which you can raise money for political campaigns. Your state should have a public disclosure or ethics commission to help you through this process before you start fundraising.

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    • profile image

      Makena 5 years ago

      Am interested in vying in my country. You have really helped me.

    • profile image

      'Let It Rain Over Me!' 5 years ago

      Nice!

    • profile image

      Ishmael 6 years ago

      We are in a procss of registering a political party in the republic of South Sfrica to contst the upcoming 2011 locals. We have met with many young people as young people ourselves and there is most definitely support for us. The difficult part is fundraising?

    • profile image

      Comus 6 years ago

      I need to throw my name in the political arena.

    • Carlos Batara profile image

      Carlos Batara 6 years ago from San Diego

      I remember working on one campaign, where the fundraiser sat with the candidate at least one hour per day and had him call friends, relative, college buddies and solicit donations. It worked as a nice supplement to regular fundraising efforts.

      However, I have mixed feelings on fundraising. Although money is critical to getting a candidate's views out, it also has the tendency to drown out the voices of those who are less successful at fundraising, or have less access to sources of fundraising. A lot of money is raised in bundles. Candidate X knows Person C who has a lot of well-to-donors.

      Anyway, I know a few local candidates who need to read this article. They're clueless about how to finance their campaigns.

    • spdarkstar profile image

      spdarkstar 7 years ago from Benijofar, Alicante, Spain

      All politics should be run on an even playing field. If your party is better at raising funds than mine, does that make your party better politically than mine. All parties should be issued ex amount of money from the treasury of the day. Which way they choose to spend it is up to them. It can all be paid back at a later date.

      At least that keeps us on an even keel and keep the lobbyist and large corporation from trying to put their spoke in.

    • bd160900 profile image

      bd160900 7 years ago from San Diego

      very informative! thanks for the post

    • profile image

      health20010 7 years ago

      hey very usful information.thans for good infromation

    • profile image

      SAM WAIRIMU 7 years ago

      I am contesting in university elections and i find it useful.

    • itcoll profile image

      itcoll 8 years ago

      thanks a lot pal.you are an awesome writer .keep it up :)

    • sunforged profile image

      sunforged 8 years ago from Sunforged.com

      Wow, well written, Ive worked as an intern, staff member on many campaigns and as a fundraiser for environmental groups...We could really have used a concise resource like this (we won the campaigns but I always felt like a headless chicken)

      The only comparable source i ever saw was the campus greens organizing manual

    • marvintumbo profile image

      marvintumbo 8 years ago from Kenya

      I think you should give lessons to our Kenyan parties. We have no rules governing how fundraising should be done. The government funds the incumbent, the opposition is funded by who knows who, and it scares me.

    • Write On! profile image

      Write On! 9 years ago from United States

      Well done Stacie:-)

      Write On!