How to Fundraise Like a (Political) Pro

Feb 01, 2016 - Joe Matar
What do Donald Trump and Kim Kardashian have in common? They’re both more frequent topics on your Facebook feed than your own friends. (Ba-dum-tss.) It may feel like we’ve all been doing this whole 2016 presidential election thing for a while already, but in reality, we’re still 280 days -- and billions of ad dollars -- away from picking our next president. Ad Age reported last August that total advertising spending for the 2016 elections could reach over $16 billion. That’s billion. With a B. All that money has to come from somewhere, and as candidates (and their staffs and consultants) at every level of government will tell you, fundraising is a key part of the job description. [clickToTweet tweet="Politicos will have raised $16 billion for the 2016 elections by Nov. Steal their #fundraising tricks:" quote="Politicos will have raised $16 billion for the 2016 elections by November. Steal their fundraising tricks!"] Sound familiar? If you work for an association, nonprofit, or university, let’s face it -- you are ultimately in the business of fundraising (or at the very least indirectly responsible for impacting fundraising goals). So in the spirit of the season (Happy Caucus Day!),  we’re turning to our friends in politics for some inspiration and advice on how to fundraise successfully. Here are the top four fundraising tips you can learn from the political pros:

1. People Won't Give If You Don't Ask

For most of us, asking someone for money can be intensely uncomfortable. But if you don’t ask, and ask directly, people won’t give. Be explicit in your ask for donations and let potential donors know the impact of their dollars.

2. You Never Get More Than You Ask for, so Don't Sell Yourself Short

If you ask for $10, no one’s going to volunteer to throw a $100 bill your way instead. Life is a negotiation, so be prepared for some back-and-forth and don’t be too shy to push back and ask if your donor could manage more than he or she originally suggested. Be prepared to explain the difference the larger donation will make.

3. Thank, Nurture, and Cultivate Your Donors

No matter the size of the donation, this tip holds true. It’s important to make your donors feel appreciated -- all your donors. While it certainly makes sense to shower your biggest donors with the best benefits and the most thanks, it’s helpful to think of donations in terms of the percentage of your donor’s income and their ability to give.

4. Don’t Make the Only Contact About Money

No one likes to feel like an ATM (ask any parent). Ongoing engagement is key, whether it’s in the form of providing networking opportunities and interesting content (audience-centric of course) or going the extra mile to reach out and recognize holidays, birthdays, deaths, etc. Maintain the relationship year-round, and develop a personal connection with as many of your donors as possible.

Go Forth and Fundraise

These tips may not make asking for money your favorite activity, but we hope they make it less daunting. Your colleagues in the fundraising department will thank you.   [avatar user="ericapyatt" size="thumbnail" align="left" link="file" target="_blank" /] Erica Pyatt is a Senior Account Manager at Brazen, where she works with enterprise customers. When she’s not being Brazen, you’ll find her in the kitchen, at the yoga studio or being silly with her baby girl. You can find her on LinkedIn here or on Twitter as @ericapyatt. alumni-engagement-ebook